There are many reasons why residents of the USA decide to become medical tourists and opt for treatment within the UK private healthcare system.
Savings on healthcare costs
Healthcare in the USA is expensive. Some Americans do not have health insurance, or their health insurance will not cover the cost of an operation in a US hospital. Travelling to the UK for surgery is an attractive option since the cost of treatment plus the cost of travel and accommodation is significantly less than the cost of treatment within the US healthcare system.
Patient safety and treatment quality
The UK has an excellent publicly funded and private healthcare system with highly regarded medical facilities and expertise. Most medical tourists access healthcare from the private healthcare sector in the UK but major NHS hospitals in London and other large UK cities also accept private patients from outside the UK.
The UK has a highly regulated healthcare system. All hospitals are inspected and accredited by the Care Quality Commission. This independent regulator licenses all healthcare facilities and ensures that they meet the required standards of quality and safety.
All hospitals, both public and private, publish data on measures such as post operative infection. In the public sector, the NHS Choices web site enables patients to compare hospitals on factors such as re-admission rate, the number of operations carried out of a specific type, the health gain after an operation, levels of post-operative infection, and patient ratings of the hospital. UK private hospitals such as those run by HCA (Hospital Corporation of America) exceed UK national quality standards and publish information on quality factors such as incidence of MRSA and clostridium difficile, and cardiac surgery survival rates.
Language and culture
The UK is much less of a culture shock to Americans than other medical tourism destinations.The overall standard of living in London and the UK in general is comparable with major European and US cities and offers plenty to do for accompanying friends and family to do while you are having treatment.
There is no language barrier; many UK private hospital facilities offer translation services for patients from overseas where necessary but for the majority of medical tourists from the US, being able to converse with doctors and nurses in English will make you feel comfortable and at home, right from the start.
The UK (and London in particular) has long been a popular destination for patients around the world who are seeking excellence in healthcare. Around a quarter of the patients treated in London's leading private hospitals come from overseas. They come to London not because it is cheap compared to their own country; they come to London because they want to achieve the best outcome for their own or for their family member's health.
London's Harley Street is a medical enclave that is unmatched around the world. It has a long and impressive history dating back to the 18th Century when it first became established as a base for London's leading surgeons. Over 1,500 doctors and specialists base their private practice in this part of London. But...it's not just one street, it's much bigger than that. It's an area of London that is home to six private hospitals, and a plethora of clinics, and diagnostic and treatment centres.
Convenient access from the USA
Many airlines cross the Atlantic every day which means it's not too difficult to find low cost offers on transatlantic air travel. Flights from the American East Coast to the UK's major airports take around seven hours which means London is closer than many of the Far East and Asian destinations which promote themselves to US based medical tourists.