It’s not exactly a secret that healthcare costs are skyrocketing in the US. It seems like we can’t go a month anymore without more news coming out about necessary treatments and medications rising in cost, how horrible our insurance options are, or the political minefield of healthcare reform.
This problematic circus has left a bad taste in some people’s mouths, so much so that they are actually willing to look outside the United States all together to find proper healthcare.
The term “medical tourism” was coined just to describe this phenomenon of Americans seeking healthcare abroad. Everything from routine checkups, special procedures, and even medications are available if you know where to go.
With its relatively low cost of living and burgeoning industry, the Dominican Republic has become a rising medical tourism hotspot, as Americans fly here from all over for the chance to actually have their illnesses cured or their procedures performed without risking lifelong debt.
One of the other major factors in the rise in medical tourism is the lack of wait times. Some procedures, even essential ones, take months due to red tape in the United States. Sometimes there simply aren’t doctors or hospitals that do certain procedures that are covered by certain types of insurance, and the only answer is to just look elsewhere.
The Dominican Republic doesn’t have very long wait times for any procedure, because there is less insurance complexity to get in the way, less people vying for the procedures, and more doctors offering on hand at any given time.
Rising Plastic Surgery Mecca
One of the biggest niches of medical tourism in general is the plastic surgery industry. Due to costs and the regulations regarding certain procedures, many Americans are forced to look outside the country for certain answers.
Sometimes it’s simply a matter of insurance. Because most cosmetic procedures are not covered by any kind of insurance in the United States, even the best coverage, Americans are simply forced to look elsewhere, and the Dominican Republic caters to this demographic.
This also includes various weight loss procedures such as liposuction, which has recently seen an uptick in popularity.
Cardiology and Heart Medicine
Not nearly as popular as plastic surgery, but far more essential. Heart disease is one of the fast growing killers in the United States, and as the health care industry becomes murkier, Americans are traveling all the way to the DR just to get what they need to survive.
Dental and Oral Treatments
Everyone knows dentists cost an arm and a leg in the States. And in many cases you have to have completely separate coverage just to get something as simple as a cavity filled.
It’s absurd to think that a couple root canals and crows can put the average American $5000 in the hole, and that’s with insurance!
Luckily, dental procedures are mostly the same wherever you go around the world, it’s just the cost that varies. So the Dominican Republic sees a healthy amount of medical tourism for root canals, teeth replacements, and fittings.
Throat doctors are also somewhat sought after, and since they are considered specialists in the States, it’s much easier to find one in the DR without having to go through insurance costs and long waits.
Joint Replacement Surgery
Another staple of medical tourism, joint replacement is much needed but often is difficult to get in the United States. Rising costs for these kinds of procedures mean many Americans are simply priced out of the market.
Fertility and Prenatal Care
Though abortion is illegal in the Dominican Republic, they do offer a wide range of fertility and mother-to-be services that make it an attractive choice for women who don’t have access to everything they need in the States.
One of the biggest medical tourism industries are fertility clinics, which specialize in providing options for couples wanting to be parents. You would think it would just be easier to get these kinds of services in the States, but costs are a huge deterrent.
In vitro fertilization in the United States can cost well over $10,000. While it’s not exactly cheap in the Dominican Republic, you can expect to pay less than half of that figure. You can see why aspiring parents would want to travel all the way here!
Starting a Practice in the Dominican Republic
It’s definitely clear that there is a market for doctors and nurses in the Dominican Republic. As with other parts of its growing economy, right now is the time to take advantage of the cheap costs, tax free real estate opportunities, and other early bird perks.
If you are thinking of practicing medicine abroad and had your sights set on a tropical climate, you can’t go wrong with the DR. Not only is it a place where a good doctor can make a real difference in people’s lives, it’s generally cheaper than a lot of the alternatives, making the initial risk of opening a practice in a foreign country much more attractive.
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