Medical Tourism In countries with expensive medical procedures, traveling abroad to countries where those same procedures are cheaper can seem like an attractive option. People may choose to go abroad for reasons other than pure cost, however. Here are some of the top three reasons people may choose to go abroad for medical care:
- Specialized Care: Many countries are known for certain specialties. For example, Panama is known for cosmetic surgery, while Hong Kong is visited for cancer treatment.
- Hospital Stays: One of the most expensive aspects of healthcare, extended hospital stays can run several thousand dollars a day in the US, for example. Saving money on a treatment or operation abroad will save you a lot of money, but if you’re planning on staying in a hospital, cheaper stays will save you even more.
- Opportunity to Travel: When going abroad for a procedure, why not recover in a cozy, exotic setting?
Although it’s possible to receive cheaper, world-class health care when getting medical attention overseas, it’s important to do your research beforehand. Certification Although the United States was once the top destination for medical tourism, it has recently slipped due to increased visa requirements. However, many doctors overseas have received education and AMA certification in the US. All of the top destinations for medical tourism boast doctors that are highly educated and certified. These top five countries are:
- United Kingdom
- Costa Rica
One should not assume, however, that all doctors in these countries meet their standards. It is still important to do some background research!
Taking the specializations of certain areas into account is another important research topic when deciding to undergo treatment abroad. Although most internationally sought-after doctors received their training in the US, some hospitals geared towards medical tourists have certain specialities. For example, South Africa is one of the world’s largest destinations for those seeking surgery— it’s about half the price of surgery in the US! Many doctors in South Africa are also trained and certified to US medical standards. The first heart transplant was even done in South Africa! Doing research in the area of expertise you are looking for will help tremendously in finding truly world-class care at a lower cost.
Language Although an obvious obstacle for medical tourists everywhere, language barriers are extremely important in making any decisions about where to receive care. A safe bet is to research which countries have high-proficiency levels in English. Because English is a global lingua franca, this assures that getting around and talking to doctors will be much less worry-free. Among the three top-five destination countries (Israel, Singapore, Costa Rica) that do not have English as an official language, it’s no coincidence that these countries all have high levels of English proficiency among adults and medical professionals.
Visas and Travel Lastly, the logistics of travelling to another country for medical care are extremely important in considering international health care options. For example, travelling from the US to Canada has less potential problems than travelling to Singapore. It may be helpful to book hotels and restaurants in advance and look up any healthy travel tips or safety recommendations about the host country. If seeking medical attention for a non-emergency, it is highly recommended to take a short trip to the host country. These familiarization trips will acquaint the would-be medical tourist not only with local facilities and doctors, but also with any visa issues, language barriers or anything else unexpected. When the time comes to travel for a medical procedure, it helps to avoid as many surprises as possible. Travelling abroad to receive health care can save you a bundle on some of the best doctors and facilities in the world, but doing research beforehand can help prevent any unwanted problems with logistics or care.