Like so many industries today, the medical sector is experiencing growing engagement on a global scale. Patients are not limited to the health and dental care available at their doorstep. Medical institutions can effectively connect with consumers around the world. This has created a thriving medical tourism market.
It is no surprise that greater freedom of choice in healthcare is supported by decentralized monetary solutions. More than ever, patients and establishments are using Bitcoin, particularly to pay for treatments.
Let’s take a closer look at this trend.
Facilitate access to well-being
One of the main challenges facing patients today is the lack of access to healthcare in their home countries. In some cases, communities lack doctors, while in others, quality care is not particularly affordable. It’s not just primary care physicians or surgical practices. THE state of oral care in the United States also faces accessibility issues. Lack of dental insurance, rising costs of relatively basic treatments, and inequities in care are among the factors contributing to poor oral health outcomes. This not only disrupts dental well-being. Oral health issues can impact other areas of health.
Domestic challenges force many Americans to seek treatment elsewhere in the world. Countries like Thailand and Mexico are common goals for good quality and more affordable healthcare. However, the different currencies in these areas may result in either administrative complications, additional transfer fees, or conversion fees. This is one of the reasons why some international medical providers have started integrating Bitcoin technology.
This means that Bitcoin can be a tool to remove some of the barriers to affordable care. Using this decentralized currency tends to mean that patients do not face unnecessary conversion fees from their banks or credit card providers. They can thus further reduce the costs of their overall care. Bitcoin’s prominence in the crypto market may also mean that it is likely the specific model that coin service providers accept today and in the future.
Maintain security and privacy
Global medical care faces a unique set of challenges. Perhaps chief among them is the way in which healthcare providers can effectively manage risks. As in many industries, strong risk mitigation practices build reputation and improve efficiency. But more importantly, a focus on maintaining security and privacy protocols reduces the exposure of facilities and patients to breaches. Bitcoin could be a component of these efforts.
One of the privacy and security risks of traditional international transactions is that there is a very direct digital paper trail of patients’ financial and personal data. When breaches occur, criminals can gain access not only to financial information but also link it to medical records. Patients also cannot always guarantee the same level of regulatory data protection standards abroad as at home.
Bitcoin, on the other hand, offers built-in security and privacy protocols. First, they are exchanged and stored on blockchain systems. This tends to make it particularly difficult for cybercriminals to access the ledger and extract coins or, more importantly, sensitive information.
Additionally, the decentralized nature of Bitcoin means that transactions can be anonymized to some extent. This means patients can reduce the possibility of Bitcoin transactions being traced back to them and their medical data. That said, maintaining anonymity requires effective protocols. For example, patients could use IP address masking tools during transactions. They could also agree with medical providers to use pseudonyms for transactions.
Linking investment to payments
One of the often overlooked components of Bitcoin regarding global healthcare is its built-in investment protocols. When patients use their credit or debit card to pay for treatment abroad, this currency does not necessarily benefit from potential increases in value. Of course, funds deposited into medical savings accounts can earn interest over time. Yet the currency conversion fees mentioned above could still have a negative impact when it comes time to pay for services abroad.
Bitcoin, on the other hand, is inherently subject to fluctuations in the crypto market. This can of course be volatile. However, this can sometimes work in investors’ favor.
For example, patients can track cryptocurrency markets and use forecasting tools to make predictions about buying coins at their lowest value. They can then schedule elective treatments abroad when currency values are expected to rise again. As a result, they can get the most medical treatment out of their investments.
Similarly, overseas healthcare providers can hold Bitcoin payments in dedicated wallets rather than withdrawing them immediately. With a responsible approach to market monitoring and forecasting, they can use increases in value to reinvest in their businesses. This could allow them to make improvements to their facilities. They might also have more funds to spend on marketing tactics. For example, organize complete health tourism travel packages which have become popular among dental tourism patients.
That said, patients and healthcare providers should be acutely aware of the significant risks this reliance on Bitcoin presents. On the patient side, it rarely makes sense to put all eggs in one basket, especially when it comes to saving for medical care. It may be better to diversify with other, more traditional forms of health insurance and health savings. It is also good to consider limiting Bitcoin-based medical tourism to non-essential electives. This prevents welfare from being too heavily influenced by crypto markets.
Bitcoin is being accepted by more and more healthcare providers around the world. This not only offers convenience and security benefits. It could also help some patients afford more treatments they wouldn’t otherwise have access to in the United States. However, it is essential to recognize that this is not a watertight solution for access to health care. As with any Bitcoin investment, its use by patients and institutions should be based on informed decision-making. However, with a responsible approach, this currency could become a useful tool in a broader health strategy.
This is a guest post from Miles Oliver. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.