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As far as the current economic situation is concerned it seems we have heard it all. Americans are losing jobs, their houses, their life savings, and even their health insurance. As a result, thousands of US patients turn towards medical travel as a way to cut cost and afford health treatments they need or desire. Sociologists see this trend as one of the actual benefits of the recession; Americans are quickly becoming much more resourceful, open-minded, and globally-oriented than ever before. This, unfortunately, is also a great opportunity for foreign companies to take advantage of US patients.
There are hundreds of medical tourism companies currently advertising on the Internet offering dozens of medical treatment destinations. How does one know if the company is reputable and trustworthy? How does one decide what destination to choose? Shockingly, experts say over half of US patients decide on having a plastic surgery or another kind of a procedure abroad without sufficient information, without asking necessary questions, and without full consideration of all their options! As a result they are not only risking their money, they are risking their health.
Doctors at the American Medical Association have recently changed their view on the medical tourism recognizing it to be safe and beneficial when a number of conditions are met. Earlier this year they issued specific recommendations encouraging US patients to educate themselves about the subject and encouraging US top hospitals such as John Hopkins Medical Center and Columbia University Medical Center to form partnerships with international clinics. Still, hundreds of medical travel providers continuously benefit form their prospective clients' lack of knowledge introducing morally questionable techniques and luring them by very low prices combined with exotic vacations. Some companies offering cosmetic surgeries in Costa Rica and Thailand go as far as to make their patients sign a disclaimer saying, in a very fine print, that the quality of care in those countries will be "most likely" lower than what they would experience in the United States and they cannot guarantee safety. One company recently posted plastic surgery in Mexico as an auction on eBay willing to sell it to the highest bidder. Fortunately, the listing was removed within hours.