“But why Istanbul, Grandma? Why not right here, in your own city?”
“Too expensive, my dear. Our insurance doesn’t cover cosmetic surgery. Besides, it would be a good vacation. Your grandpa and I’ve never stayed in luxury hotels.”
“This one’s lining the beach. Wouldn’t that be good?”
“I still don’t understand, Grandpa, she’s been in recovery for 3 weeks, why can’t you come back?”
I sense the helplessness in his voice. Something seems terribly wrong.
“What aren’t you telling me, Gramps?”
“I … your grandma, she … some mix-up, she has a big scar … near her kidney.”
Previously, individuals from lesser developed countries used to travel to more developed ones for treatments often unavailable at home. However, the reverse of it now happens now. Popularly known as Medical Tourism, it enables individuals in developed countries with low insurance covers or low personal funds to travel to major medical centers in lesser developed countries. As a result, these get packaged as holistic treatment plans – complete with tourism, luxury stays and wellness. With a booming medical tourism industry, countries like Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, Israel, Turkey and more provide good results, experiences, and savings. Foreign Body, by Robin Cook, is based on a American insurance-medical provider coterie that creates such horror stories with people sent abroad in order to debunk medical tourism, to keep their own coffers full.