“Our market has always been what I call the ‘working poor’ and they keep getting poorer,” said Josef Woodman, CEO of Patients Without Borders. “The pandemic has ravaged low-income and middle-class people around the world and for many of them the reality is that they have to travel to access affordable health care.
In April, following the initial global lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, medical travel bookings fell by more than 89% in the most popular destinations, including Mexico, Thailand, Turkey and South Korea , according to Medical Departures, a Bangkok- based medical travel agency. Since August, the numbers have slowly rebounded, but bookings in Mexico, which has seen a surge in American travelers in recent months, are still down 32% from the same August-December period in 2019.
“Covid-19 has devastated the entire medical tourism ecosystem due to all the uncertainty over travel restrictions and quarantine measures that keep changing around the world,” said Paul McTaggart, founder of the ‘agency.
“Despite this, we are still seeing an increasing number of people traveling and booking trips to meet their urgent health needs, especially between the United States and the Mexican border where patients can travel safely by car,” he said. Mr. McTaggart said. The Center for Medical Tourism Research found that Google searches in the United States for the terms “medical tourism to Mexico” had increased 64% since July, compared to pre-pandemic levels before travel restrictions were cut. be imposed in March.
“Google searches are almost directly correlated with consumer behavior when it comes to traveling across borders,” said Vequist.
Prior to the winter coronavirus resurgence, Ms Jackson had started planning and saving for a trip to Mexicali, a border town in northern Mexico, where she can undergo a hysterectomy for $ 4,000, a fifth of the cost of the proposed procedure in New Jersey. Her best friend had offered to drive her there and pay for gas and accommodation.