Medical tourism is a term that describes the practice of traveling across international borders to obtain health care. The term also loosely defines the practice of healthcare providers delivering healthcare across international boundaries. Dental surgery, cardiac surgery, joint replacement and cosmetic surgeries are common healthcare services performed internationally. Medical tourism may also encompass psychiatry, convalescent care and other alternative treatments.
What Countries Participate in Medical Tourism?
Over 50 countries recognize medical tourism and participate. Some countries or medical schools have different levels of accreditation. These countries may not have state of the art equipment and ideal medical standards that may be dangerous for some of these “tourists”. If student volunteers, health professional trainees or researchers from economically developed countries are working in the country where they surgery is performed, then the same level of service may be provided in a resource-poor country.
India, Mexico and Thailand are some of the most popular locations for medical tourism. For instance, in India, they entice medical tourists by offering a $6,700 heart surgery. In another example, patients saved 80 percent on their hip resurfacing surgeries. The surgery in America would cost $48,000. The same surgery in India will cost $7,000 for equally adequate care.
Many hospitals in other countries meet or exceed the criteria set forth by institutions such as the Joint Commissions on Accreditation’s of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), the Joint Commission International (JCI) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
Millions of Americans visit Asia, South America and Mexico for medical tourism. Exotic vacations also accompany these trips to calm the patient and make the experience more palatable.
Select a Network that Can Verify the Hospital’s Standards
Patients that intend to receive healthcare abroad should consider joining a healthcare network. These networks can verify the level of service that they will receive once they arrive at the hospital. The quality of the hospital is listed on the website for the patients to peruse. The proficiency of the physician will also be described so that patients can monitor and select their level of care.
These networks can partner with their travel agency to plan your accommodations and flight arrangements. The loan processing companies may also coordinate with the hospital to ensure that the patient can pay for all aspects of the trip. Patients are saving considerable amounts by considering health care abroad. Many of these websites have won considerable awards for offering information regarding medical tourism.
Who is Recommended for Medical Tourism?
Elective Surgery Patients. Cosmetic surgeries such as plastic surgery and dental surgery are considered elective surgeries. These surgeries are ideal for medical tourism as the prices and locations are more favorable than other locations. Some elective procedures include: Gastric bypass surgery, heart valve repair, LASIK eye surgery, artificial knee replacement, RF ablation, dental implants, dental crowns and dental veneers.
Under-insured Patients. The under-insured patient benefits from the currency exchange rates in countries such as India, Mexico and other countries that are not as resource rich as the United States or the UK. If the care patients need is not covered by the insurance policy, then under-insured people are better off seeking lower cost care in other countries.
Uninsured Patients. Sixteen percent of the United States population is uninsured. This number equates to nearly 45 million Americans. Without lower cost care, many people face bankruptcies and deplete their savings to handle their expenses.
Benefits of Medical Tourism
Consider this method of travel a viable option to obtain much needed health care and a vacation at the fraction of the cost of healthcare alone in the United States. Patients may schedule their appointments without being placed on long wait lists. This is preferable to patients that need immediate care.
There are many therapeutic implications to a faster recovery using this method. People that are under less stress will heal faster which explains why it is growing in popularity. Furthermore, It may be a more attractive option for people as healthcare expenses continue to rise in the United States. With 45 million uninsured people, they are more likely to opt for a vacation in addition to their surgery in another country rather than just a surgery in their home country.