|In contrast, those in the smallest group where the main goal was to save money on discretionary procedures (mainly cosmetic surgery) came mostly from more developed markets but then traveled to small providers rather than to large established hospitals. Many patients visited rural locations in countries with low GDP per capita and a comparatively low attractiveness rating (level of development, safety, transportation, general reputation) where labor costs were low.
Referencing a report on uninsured patients seeking care abroad, McKinsey noted that the threshold for patients traveling from the United States to a foreign country to save money seems to be at least $10,000 in savings, including medical care and travel expenses.
APSG Comment: In contrast to a coronary artery bypass, realizing a savings of $10,000 for less expensive cosmetic operations is very difficult once extra travel expenses and lost wages, etc. are factored into the total cost (which most medical tourists underestimate, as detailed here and here). It is unlikely that many in the discretionary group traveling for the expressed reason of decreasing cost really saved that much money.
Apart from immigrants in the West returning to their old but familiar homeland where remaining local family can provide for shelter and safety, don't count on any substantial exodus of Americans traveling to East Asia for cosmetic surgery anytime soon.
For others living in the United States or even the U.K., there is little obvious justification to travel to the East other than for more obscure Asian cosmetic operations like calf reduction or facial bone slimming and then only for superior surgeon experience.
Much of the reported surge in cosmetic medical tourism in East Asia is related to increased internal demand coming from within East Asia itself or from nearby Oceania, for instance, China to South Korea, Australia to Thailand, and so on.