Medical Tourism: What to Know

Ever wondered what British super model Naomi Campbell, Italian film director Bernardo Bertolucci, German TV and film actress Ingeborg Schoener, Pop star Madonna, Hollywood actress Demi Moore and Cherie Blair, wife of Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister, have in common? Medical vacation!

Before you wonder why they would do such a thing, here is the reason why: It is a more effective choice of treatment for some. For others it’s the cost whereas for others its quality. It also provides for personal choice of place and preferences.

People nowadays are considering new and more effective alternatives for medical treatment and medical tourism shares its inception with medical treatment itself. Contemporary Medical tourism is an evolution of ancient practices like trips to holy temple baths and hot springs.

History of Medical Tourism

History bears testimony for the fact that people often explored civilizations for therapeutic purposes. This is quite evident in the scripts of the Indian, Mesopotamian, Chinese, Egyptian civilizations that gathered around the iron rich mineral springs of Switzerland. The practices of bathing in iron-rich mineral springs began in the 2000 BC when the hill tribes bathed in the springs of Switzerland.

In times as ancient as the 4000 BC, the Sumerian texts reveal that they built primitive health centers near the mineral water springs including the high-rise temples and pools.

Though it is agreeable that the Sumerians realized the healing effects of mineral rich water, the credit of paving the way for health care system and medical tourism networks is accredited the Greeks.

So, why choose medical travel. The reasons are as meek as that it more cost effective with no compromise in quality. In any case, if during a time period or in any location, the health care system isn’t resourceful enough, patients tend to resort to medical travel.

In counties like USA and Canada, people are often sickened with the health care cost, insurance, and the wait time for any medical procedures. No matter how serious the ailment is, a lot of money and time need to be put into it.

Picture this: A 45 year old man is looking for treatment for some cardiac issues in the Unites States, a nation with almost 50 million people that either have no insurance or are underinsured. His insurance does not cover the total cost of the treatment that ranges from $50000-$60000. He does not qualify for the benefits of either Medicare, as he is too young, or Medicaid as he is too wealthy. The only way he can get an affordable and high quality treatment, as mentioned earlier, is by travelling.

Wait Times

In other nations like Britain, the wait period overshadows the money put into it. People can choose to skip the wait period by paying a hefty monetary compensation for that. Astonishingly, the wait period may be as long as a year or more. But, the healthcare destination hospitals provide the option of advance date.

Doing the math, it is obvious that the airfare, treatment cost, travel insurance, hotel and the treatment fares add up to being much economical in other countries than in the USA and Canada. Some of the medical producers cost 2 to 10 times lesser in other nations when compared to USA and Canada.

Compelled by these factors, people are left with no choice but to look outside their country for better options. Unpredictably, the developing nations have achieved great success with their health care industry. They have US trained doctors, hospitals that are accredited by Joint Commission International, a North-American based group that gives accreditation to hospital when they meet high standards.

Today there are no economic, cultural constraints because of globalization. It is much easier to travel to a selected country and get the treatment done and return to one’s own nation to enjoy a peaceful, healthy life instead of wasting time and money.

For some people, it is a great boon to benefit from the experimental health care that is rather restricted in their home land.

All of the above assets combined with the fun it is to visit these places make this worthwhile and a favorable choice.

But like the two flip sides of a coin, it is vital to consider the disadvantages with these medical vacations that include but are not constricted to health malpractices law suits, Insurance coverage, cost for two people, after surgery treatment, safety and lastly, making the right choice of destination.

Let us explore the world for best medical vacation destinations:

India, Mexico, Singapore, Barbados, Brazil, Thailand, Israel, South Korea, Turkey, Costa Rica, Antigua, Hungary are the prominent ones.

India: People travel to India for India’s Healing art. India is very famous for its alternative medicine, be it yoga, Ayurveda or Homeopathy. Since the birth of Yoga, 5000 years ago, people have been travelling to India to get the benefits of alternative medicine that leaves them detoxified and rejuvenated. The Medical tourism industry in India serves the people for coronary diseases, orthopedic procedures and surrogating.

Mexico: It is best option for bariatric surgeries and dental tourism as it is right across the border for Americans.

Singapore: The best in the world, it offers treatment options for cancer and stem cell.

Barbados: For infertility treatment and the beautiful West Indies beaches.

Brazil: The country offers best cosmetic surgeons in the world to global clientele including famous personalities.

Thailand: With JCI accredited hospitals the place gives treatment for every human known condition.

Israel: Provides effective cure for Male infertility, IVF procedures

South Korea: It has the world’s largest JCI endorsed facility for patients that make available cosmetic, cancer and spine treatment.

Turkey: It has European and American trained doctors that are well trained in Cardiac, cancer, orthopedic and laser eye surgery

Costa Rica: Its easy accessibility makes it best for dental tourist and cosmetic surgery.

Antigua and Bahamas: Its merits include English speaking; US trained doctors eminent for De- addiction and recovery

Hungary: It is globally acclaimed for its spas.

The next big question is how you can benefit from this?

There are two options:

1. Solo 2. Go through the medical tourism service provider.

Although doing everything on their own saves medical vacationers a lot of money, gives them flexibility to plan but legal and safety issues are a major consideration. The global healthcare providers give the best hospitals and the best doctors for little more money. They can deal with any legal issues.

Medical travel is a matter of personal choice and necessity. A broad spectrum of issues must be taken into consideration before widening your horizon for destinations for medical travel.