VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – We told you earlier this week that the province has plans to upgrade two Lower Mainland hospitals, but the improvements to Royal Columbian and St. Paul’s won’t be seen for years.

Long wait times for surgery will likely continue until the upgrades happen, meaning some people are making the decision to have their surgery abroad.

It’s hard to track the exact numbers, but SFU’s Jeremy Snyder, who studies trends in medical tourism, says thousands of British Columbians do it every year.

“For some of these people who are in pain and they are being told they have to wait six months, two years for treatment or even for a diagnoses, you can certainly understand why they’re willing to pay out of pocket,” explains Snyder.

He believes the number of people heading abroad will just continue to grow.

“The baby boom generation is moving through and demanding care, and it may be the case that resources being put into the system aren’t able to keep up [with the demand].”

Snyder adds some people are choosing to go abroad because other countries have experimental treatments not found in Canada, and often you’ll find lower costs for the procedures.