Americans Kidnapped in Mexico Highlight ‘Medical Tourism’ Issue

The kidnapping of four Americans last week in Mexico has drawn attention to medical tourism, or when Americans go to other nations to get medical care or obtain prescription drugs, frequently at cheaper prices.

According to remarks made on Monday by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Americans who had crossed the border to buy medicine wound up being trapped in the crossfire between two armed factions.

Zindell Brown, one of the four victims of the kidnapping, was one of them, according to Zalandria Brown of Florence, South Carolina, who also revealed to The Associated Press that one of them intended to have a tummy tuck cosmetic procedure in Mexico.

In recent decades, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of Americans seeking medical and dental care abroad. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies that practice as risky, although the organization is more worried about medical problems, such as the possibility of purchasing fake prescriptions or receiving care from an unqualified physician than it is about crime.

According to Josef Woodman, CEO of Patients Without Borders, a medical tourism organization, violent crime directed at persons traveling outside the United States to receive care is incredibly uncommon. Instead, the dangers usually entail not doing enough research to locate licensed medical professionals and clinics abroad, which could raise the possibility of receiving subpar care, he said.

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Before the pandemic, more Americans than ever before—1.2 million as opposed to 150,000 nearly two decades earlier—traveled abroad for medical treatment. As borders were blocked due to the pandemic, medical travel momentarily came to an end; however, it has since resumed.

According to a 2015 report from the US International Trade Commission, about 25% of American medical tourists go to South America for treatment, and another 20% go to Central America (USITC).

Asian nations including Thailand, Singapore, and South Korea are among the other well-liked vacation spots, according to Patients Without Borders. The USITC survey also discovered that approximately 1 million Californians visit Mexico annually to get less expensive medications.

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