Need Healthcare? Consider Traveling
Medical Tourism includes the terms medical travel, global healthcare, and health tourism, and describes the practice of people traveling to receive medical treatment, whether necessary or elective. Additionally, it refers to the travel of health care providers to provide healthcare to individuals in other countries. Medical Tourism is quickly becoming an international multibillion dollar industry.
The reason people travel for medical treatments varies from individual to individual. Cost can be a major reason people choose to receive medical treatment abroad. Surprisingly, sometimes the cost of travel including the cost of treatment is less than the insurance deductible. According to TimeWorld in Taiwan a liver-transplant surgery cost around $91,000, compared to around $300,000 in the U.S. TimeBusiness reports “As an uninsured American, William Keval was dreading his hip-replacement surgery. Doctors in Illinois told him the procedure would cost up to $50,000 — a steep price tag for a 59-year-old farmer with two daughters. So rather than fork over a chunk of his savings, Keval opted to have the surgery done in Latvia, where he paid just $7,600.”
Countries that actively promote medical tourism include Cuba, Costa Rica, Hungary, India, Israel, Jordan, Lithuania, Malaysia and Thailand. Belgium, Poland, Singapore and South Africa.
India is well known for producing world class computer programmers and engineers but they also produced an estimated 30,000 doctors and nurses each year. India’s government estimates that medical tourism cold bring in between one billion and two billion US dollars into India by 2012 and they estimate the medical tourism to grow by 30% per year. Patients usually opt for a package deal that includes fights, transfers, hotels, treatment and often a post operative vacation.
Thailand is a favorite designation for American and Japanese patients looking for cheaper medical care. Bangkok’s International Medical Centre offers services in 26 languages, recognizes cultural and religious dietary restrictions and has a special wing for Japanese patients.
Israeli has at least one hospital which advertises worldwide services, specializing in both male and female infertility, in-vitro fertilization and high-risk pregnancies.
South Africa offers package medical holiday deals with stays at either luxury hotels or safaris.
The fastest growing area of medical tourism is to visit a dentist. Often dental care is not covered by basic insurance which forces lots of people to look for cheaper dental care. India, Thailand and Hungary are popular destinations for patients who need a filling, extraction or root canal at a reasonable cost.
Patients considering medical tourism should also be aware of the potentially negative issues associated with receiving medical care outside of your home country. Often medical insurance will not pay for the medical procedure which means the patient must pay cash. There is little follow-up care. Side effects, complications, and post-operative care are then the responsibility of the medical care system in the patients’ home country. Some countries that offer medical tourism have weak or no malpractice laws therefore the patient will have little if any recourse if something goes wrong.
Many people believe that the benefits of health travel outweigh the risks, especially when a person is diligent in doing their research and seeking out an accredited source for healthcare treatment. Due to the technological advancements and global standards of care in the healthcare industry, many professionals believe medical tourists can receive treatments that are as good as, if not better than, the treatments they would receive on their home turf. Thanks to increasing ease and relative low cost of international travel, getting to the destination isn’t nearly as hard as it may have once been.