We've been talking again about dental tourism — specifically, how US dental insurance company Companion Dental is including an "international treatment option" in all its dental plans for patients who'd prefer to go to Costa Rica for lower-cost care.
So how big is this whole "dental tourism" business, anyway?
It's not really mainstream, but it is growing — and that's why we should all be keeping an eye on it.
Think tank Deloitte Center for Health Solutions predicts that about 648,000 patients will take medical and dental vacations overseas this year — 20% more than in 2008. (Read the article)
According to Deloitte, this 20% growth is actually a reduction in demand. (Deloitte once predicted medical tourism would double every year, reports one website.) As many as 750,000 American sought dental tourism in 2007. The recession seems to be to blame, with patients having less money to spend on discretionary treatment.
“Barring any tempering factors, such as supply constraints, resistance from health plans, increased domestic competition or government policies, we project that outbound medical tourism could reach upwards of 1.6 million patients by 2012,” said Paul Keckley, Ph.D. and executive director of Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.