“Our market has always been what I call the ‘working poor’ and they are getting poorer,” said Josef Woodman, CEO of Patients Without Frontiers. “The pandemic has wiped out low-income and middle-class people around the world, and for many of them the reality is that they have to travel to get access to affordable health care.”

After the initial global lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus, medical travel bookings in top destinations including Mexico, Thailand, Turkey and South Korea fell more than 89 percent in April, according to Medical Departures, Bangkok. medical travel agency. The numbers have slowly recovered since August, but bookings in Mexico, where the number of American travelers has increased in recent months, are still 32 percent down on the same August-December 2019 period.

“Covid-19 has destroyed the entire medical tourism ecosystem due to the uncertainty about travel restrictions and quarantine measures that are constantly changing around the world,” said Paul McTaggart, the agency’s founder.

“Even so, we are still seeing a growing number of people who travel and book trips to meet their urgent health needs, particularly between the US-Mexico border where patients can safely travel by car,” said McTaggart. The Center for Medical Tourism Research found that Google searches for the terms “Mexico medical tourism” in the US has increased 64 percent since July, compared to the prepandemic before travel restrictions were introduced in March.

“Google searches correlate almost directly with consumer behavior when traveling across borders,” said Vequist.

Before the winter coronavirus resurgence, Ms. Jackson had begun planning and saving a trip to Mexicali, a border town in northern Mexico, where she can do a hysterectomy for $ 4,000, one-fifth the cost of the procedure on offer in New Jersey. Her best friend had offered to drive her there and pay for the gas and accommodation.