Aging Gracefully: Medical Tourism Provides Answers to AARP

Gilliam Elliott, of the Medical Tourism Association, versed seniors on the advantages and benefits of travel abroad at the annual AARP convention, in Las Vegas.

Gilliam Elliott, of the Medical Tourism Association, versed seniors on the advantages and benefits of travel abroad at the annual AARP convention, in Las Vegas.

With a little bit of planning and some caution, senior citizens and AARP members learned they could not only sightsee after retirement, but take care of a medical procedure or treatment while they visit almost any destination around the world.

Nearly 10,000 members of the over-50 crowd were on-hand for the star-studded AARP annual convention, where representatives from the Medical Tourism Association® discussed aging gracefully and the benefits of traveling abroad for medical care earlier this month in Las Vegas.

The Medical Tourism Association®  builds consumer awareness of international healthcare options through outreach efforts at conventions and conferences in the United States and across the globe and with initiatives including its Health & Wellness Destination Guides, Medical Tourism Magazine, annual World Medical Tourism and Global Healthcare Congress, numerous partnership and networking activities, online education and certification programs, and No. 1 rated Internet portal for healthcare consumers, http://www.medicaltourism.com among others.

“Access to high-quality and inexpensive healthcare becomes more challenging as the years go by,” said Renee-Marie Stephano, president and co-founder of the Medical Tourism Association®. “Because we work with governments, hospitals, physicians, and insurance companies striving to bring affordable options to diverse populations, attending the AARP convention was a no-brainer.”

Medically Speaking

When they weren’t taking in the sights and sounds in the Entertainment Capital of the World, the three-day AARP convention presented participants with a convenient avenue to be briefed on medical tourism, which attracts patients who want to combine an affordable procedure – from cosmetic surgery to organ transplants – with a short vacation.

Adults ages 50 to 64 face rising out-of-pocket healthcare costs and declining access to health insurance. Dental care poses both aesthetic and practical healthcare problems that should be foremost on the minds of seniors. Advancing age puts many at-risk for tooth decay, which remains the most prevalent chronic disease among adults 55 and over and a primary reason seniors consider traveling abroad to compensate for procedures that are not covered by insurance.

The changing nature of illness today has also moved the nation’s growing senior population to consider cost-effective prevention techniques at health spas around the world. Wellness travel is, in fact, one of the fastest growing trends in medical tourism today, and seniors are a good reason why.

“Many consumers were already aware of medical tourism and several attendees conveyed their own positive experiences,” said Charlie Rodriguez, a marketing and engagement coordinator with the Medical Tourism Association®.

Skyrocketing costs for healthcare have already moved some half-million Americans to seek medical tourism each year, both domestically and internationally. Many are senior citizens and retirees, who are finding procedures to be a fraction of the cost of those in the United States. Plus, they don’t have to contend with long and erratic wait lists.

Spreading the News

Couple those incentives with the fact that as many as 3.3 million “Baby Boomers” living in the United States plan to someday retire overseas, it’s easy to understand why medical tourism has an emerged as a cost-effective healthcare alternative of interest to seniors.

“It’s something that we didn’t expect,” said Gilliam Elliott, an outreach marketing coordinator with the Medical Tourism Association®, who was admittedly caught off-guard by the high interest level for services among the predominately senior crowd. “I was amazed at the amount of people that needed our help.”

The Medical Tourism Association® exhibit was among some 150 displays on health, finances and even dating that catered to adults, 50-and-over, on the Las Vegas Convention Center exposition floor. Speakers at the convention included Don Rickles, Bob Newhart and Emilio Estefan. The Temptations, The Four Tops and singer Natalie Cole provided entertainment.

Commitment to Quality

Las Vegas officials are committed to making the city a thriving destination for the medical tourism industry. The Southern Nevada Medical Industry Coalition is in the process of drafting an asset analysis and a quality algorithm before writing a feasibility study on how to grow the region’s $50 billion medical tourism industry as well as its $106 billion wellness offerings, dominated by Las Vegas’ popular spa facilities, especially attractive to seniors.

The asset analysis will serve as an inventory of medical specialties available in Southern Nevada and the algorithm will compare quality of care and treatment outcomes achieved in Las Vegas against peers nationwide.

Southern Nevada’s efforts got a boost when the Medical Tourism Association® announced it would hold its signature event this year, the 6th World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress, Nov. 3-5, at Caesars Palace, in Las Vegas. The annual event brings together top professionals from around the world for the ultimate opportunity in networking and collaborating while gaining insight into emerging trends from recognized speakers and hundreds of exhibitors in the medical tourism industry.

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