Medical Tourism during the Global Pandemic

As many of you are no doubt aware, travel nowadays is a dicey proposition. Flights are randomly cancelled, borders arbitrarily closed to international visitors, hotel swimming pools and breakfast buffets shut down for no good reason. It’s almost enough to make one seriously consider putting their vacation plans on hold and staying at home like some sort of recluse.

But what about those of us who don’t have the luxury of avoiding nonessential travel- people who are in urgent and dire need of elective cosmetic surgery, for example? How to proceed with one’s desperately required nose job or facelift, when even nations which have based their entire economies on tourist dollars have suddenly become so uninviting and inhospitable?

Not to worry! Things are getting back to normal now that governments and private enterprise have found common ground in promoting “herd immunity”, also known as “culling the herd”. In case you are unfamiliar with agricultural terminology, it’s basically a policy of killing off the oldest, weakest, and unhealthiest specimens as a method of population control. Cynical persons might assume that basic human greed is the motivation for reopening economies when the preservation of life demands the exact opposite; but in reality, the exponentially increasing global death toll is an end in itself, rather than simply an unfortunate side effect of capitalism.

Therefore, one would be naive to assume that any lockdowns, travel restrictions, or business closures mandated by governments will be anything more than a fleeting inconvenience. These perfunctory measures should not be misinterpreted as sincere efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus- most lockdowns only last a few months, and are then capriciously lifted for political, rather than scientific, reasons. Global and domestic commerce will inexorably assert their dominance over all humanitarian considerations; humans ourselves demand that this hierarchy of priorities be maintained, and only the most authoritarian of regimes have the tools to deny their citizens the rights of free trade and freedom of movement, or even to mandate the wearing of masks in public spaces. Socialized medicine has always been an unpopular concept- never more so than now, when people who are accustomed to neglecting their own health are suddenly being forced to protect not only themselves, but other members of society.

It’s no wonder the medical establishment has devolved in public perception from a trusted source of easily-ignored advice, to an untrustworthy instigator of enforceable decrees. Now, more than ever, people are looking to medical tourism, not only for its economical aspect, but as a means of reclaiming sovereignty over one’s healthcare decisions in a world where medical oligarchies are rapidly consolidating their influence over public health policy. Choosing your own physicians and hospitals is, in many countries, a luxury reserved only for the rich…unless one is open to international travel, in which case the prices are negotiable and the options bountiful.

“But what about the ‘rona? Would it not be counterproductive to travel overseas for medical treatment only to risk getting infected with a disease requiring even more medical treatment?”

Well, if you look at it that way, ambulances can crash on the way to the hospital, so why take any chances with your health by visiting a healthcare provider? Life is always a crapshoot.

However, as other sources have thoughtfully pointed out, the benefits of medical tourism far outweigh the potential risks, and although many desirable locales for this type of travel are still closed to all but the most urgent cases, one must look optimistically towards the near future. In fact, the current situation is not without its advantages, as it gives patients more time to explore their options and thoroughly research various destinations, clinics, and procedures whilst waiting for the world to reopen. Proper planning and preparation make the difference between a calculated risk and a foolhardy one, so take advantage of the opportunity to come to an informed and thoughtful decision about where you should travel and whom you should trust. You may just find that there are many countries safer than your own when it comes to coronavirus protocols, so if that’s your main concern, then by all means look at the available data and compare infection rates. A local clinic may not only be more expensive than a foreign one, but more dangerous as well…

There are pros and cons to every course of action, but ultimately the decision is yours to make. Even if you take reasonable precautions such as purchasing an appropriate respirator mask to wear whilst traveling, there are always risks which may or may not outweigh the potential benefits. This analysis is the first step, and possibly the last, of your healing/transformative journey- approach it from your own perspective and don’t be susceptible to sales pitches or paranoid warnings. Nothing is ever as good or as bad as they say it is, so focus on the facts and the goal, not the hype or the fears. Choose wisely!