Medical Tourism in France

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Medical tourism in France

When you think of the tourism industry in France, you probably picture large crowds of people swarming the Eiffel Tower, strolling along the Seine, and sitting outside at cafes eating croissants. However, there is another booming aspect of tourism in France: medical tourism.

When you think of the tourism industry in France, you probably picture large crowds of people swarming the Eiffel Tower, strolling along the Seine, and sitting outside at cafes eating croissants. However, there is another booming aspect of tourism in France: medical tourism.

Medical tourism is when people who live in one country travel to another country to receive medical care. This could be because of affordability, access to care, or the desire for certain medications or procedures that might not be available in one’s home country.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the state of healthcare in the United States is a hotly debated and contentious issue. That’s a big reason why many tourists visit France each year for medical procedures, like dental implants or heart surgery, instead of having them done in the U.S.

But what goes into someone deciding to leave the U.S. to receive healthcare elsewhere? How can we understand healthcare policies that are often as political as they are medical?

The State of Healthcare in the United States

Discussing healthcare in the United States can be an exasperating prospect. Whatever your political feelings are, there is no denying that a huge number of Americans cannot afford even the most basic level of care.

According to Fiscal Tiger, “Even those with insurance can struggle to pay medical bills, and every year as many as 1 in 5 Americans have trouble covering their healthcare expenses.” It’s clear that a sizable part of the country is simply unable to afford the cost of medical procedures. They continue, “It is the most common cause of bankruptcy in the United States, even more so than consumer debt.”

It’s clear that healthcare costs in the United States are out of control. Something like an accident or even having a baby can leave many Americans in a huge amount of debt and still lacking the care they need.

It’s no wonder medical tourism exists. The extreme costs of healthcare also make one wonder how these policies are formed. Discussing it can often lead to a kerfuffle around the family dinner table or in the classroom, as emotions are often high and opinions strong.

“Local, state and federal lawmakers rely on healthcare policies to protect and promote public health, but creating the policies has historically been a challenge,” say healthcare professionals at Duquesne University. “Often, healthcare policymaking comes as a result of lawmaker wrangling, not from medical professionals who best understand patient needs.”

The political nature of the formation of healthcare policy is exactly what creates the need for and popularity of medical tourism. Even as more healthcare professionals get involved with policymaking, there is a long way to go.

Why Go to France for Your Healthcare Needs?

France is popular for medical tourism because the cost of healthcare in France is dramatically lower than in the United States. France also boasts one of the best healthcare systems in the world. While U.S. healthcare may be out of reach for many people, France makes it both accessible and affordable.

Aside from the lower cost, you’ll also likely experience much shorter wait times for medical procedures in France. This can be hugely important when you have a time-sensitive procedure or examination you need to have done. Some of the most popular procedures for medical tourists include:

  • Dental work
  • Fertility help
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Cancer treatment

Because France has a high-quality healthcare system, the country attracts top doctors and other healthcare practitioners from all over the world who can offer the highest level of care possible — and not just in terms of surgeons and traditional doctors, either. Alternative forms of healthcare are on the rise in France, which attracts an even higher level of medical tourism in the country.

You can see that there are many great reasons to visit France, aside from enjoying baguettes and romantic strolls through the streets of Paris. France offers a whole new world of medical possibilities and high-quality care that is out of reach for many Americans in their home country.

The Future of Medical Tourism

All of this leads one to wonder how the future of medical tourism might change if the United States changes its healthcare policies. With the presidential election coming up, many candidates, both Republican and Democrat, are focusing on healthcare as one of their main campaign issues.

Bernie Sanders, for example, wants to introduce his Medicare For All single-payer healthcare system to the United States. In Sanders’ plan, every single American would be covered. If this plan were to take hold, it would dramatically change the insurance industry, healthcare as a whole, and the medical tourism industry. The world is paying close attention to see what will happen in the presidential election and how it will affect the future of healthcare worldwide.

Figuring out how to approach healthcare as an average American family is a challenge, and it’s even more of a challenge if you are living at or below the poverty line. Between the complexities of dental insurance, eye insurance, primary care, and emergency care, it can be overwhelming and disheartening to think about how to pay for it all.

Medical tourism exists for a reason, and it’s easy to see why a country like France is one of the most popular destinations for those seeking more affordable or accessible treatment options outside the United States.


Guest Post by Dan Matthews

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