The healthcare system in the United States has been a central topic in the news for years, but you don’t have to be a newshound to recognize it’s in a state of disarray. It’s expensive, inefficient, and largely driven by profit. In fact, the U.S. ranked lowest for healthcare system performance when compared to 10 other developed countries, according to a 2017 report by the Commonwealth Fund.

But nothing’s perfect. Healthcare systems vary around the world, and virtually all of them have flaws. That’s why medical tourism exists—and is sometimes the best solution for getting the care you need.

How common is medical tourism?

Medical tourism—traveling to another country to receive medical care—is more common than you might think. Global medical tourism statistics indicate that 14 to 16 million people visited another country in 2017 for medical reasons, spending a combined $68 billion. By some estimates, the market for global medical tourism is growing at a rate of 15 to 25 percent per year.

Because the U.S. has many high-quality hospitals and physicians, it is a destination for medical tourists from other countries. However, many medical tourists are also going the other way—from the United States to other countries to receive health care.


For many back pain sufferers, the only alternative to fusion is offered outside the U.S. Get in touch to learn more about an innovative new procedure called BalancedBack®.

Why travel for medical care?

The two most common reasons more Americans have become medical tourists are:

  1. They’re looking for more affordable health care. The U.S. has the most expensive health care system in the world; other countries can deliver the same (or better) quality care at a much lower price—sometimes at 30 to 65 percent of the cost. For example, a patient could travel to the Cayman Islands for a BalancedBack® Total Lumbar Arthroplasty (a procedure not available in the U.S.) and pay just one-half to one-third the cost of a spinal fusion at home, depending on where you live.
  2. They want an advanced procedure not available here. The U.S. is slower than other countries when it comes to adopting and approving new medical technology. Sometimes the procedure you need is only available elsewhere. (Read about how some employers are offering employees the option to go abroad.)

More and more Americans—and patients in other countries—are starting to become active participants in their healthcare, evaluating their options, doing research on their condition, and getting second opinions. In the end, the answer to the question “Where can I get the best care?” might just be somewhere outside your home borders.

More Global Medical Tourism Statistics

Medical Tourism In Europe: Statistics

Health tourism accounts for 4.6 percent of the general tourism market in the EU. (Medical Tourism Magazine)

Germany, Sweden, Poland, Italy, and France account for 75 percent of the EU medical tourism market. (Medical Tourism Magazine)

Five percent of EU citizens receive medical treatment in another EU country. (Statista)

Medical Tourism Statistics From The U.S.

Approximately 1.9 million Americans will travel outside the U.S. for medical care in 2019. (Patients Beyond Borders)

The top specialties sought by Americans considering medical tourism are:

  • Dentistry
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • In-vitro fertilization
  • Weight loss
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Dermatology
  • Liver & kidney transplants
  • Spine surgery

(Health-tourism.com)

What do I need to know before committing to medical care in another country?

Medical tourism requires you to do a different level of due diligence than you might have to do back home.

Every country has its own credentialing requirements. Some countries are regulated while others aren’t. When traveling to any country for medical care, there are always new questions that you wouldn’t have to ask back home. For example, what are the country’s accreditation and licensing standards? Who regulates healthcare in the country? Are the facilities modern and well-equipped? Who are your providers and where were they trained? It’s important to do your homework before you commit.

Spine Care In The Cayman Islands

BalancedBack® Total Lumbar Arthroplasty is an advanced treatment for leg and back pain currently on the path to getting FDA approval in the U.S. In the meantime, patients who are willing to travel outside the U.S. for care can benefit from BalancedBack® in Grand Cayman.

BalancedBack® patients travel to NovoClinic Cayman and CTMH Doctors Hospital, where they are treated by fellowship-trained surgical teams who live and work in the U.S., delivering the same level of care (and in many ways better care) than you would expect back home. The Cayman Islands provides a regulated, high-end environment for medical innovation, just a short trip from most U.S. cities.

To learn more about BalancedBack®, our surgeons, and the travel experience, check out our frequently asked questions or contact us.

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