These days, the cost of healthcare is skyrocketing at an alarming rate. For this reason, many people are choosing to go abroad for medical care. Medical tourism, a type of travel where people leave their own country to seek health care in another country, is becoming increasingly popular.
There are many reasons that people opt for medical tourism. Some people have to travel abroad for access to specialists who can care for rare diseases or perform difficult surgeries. Others are seeking more affordable care, while a minority of people want procedures that are not legal in their own countries. Are you interested in being a medical tourist? Read on for information about this health care option.
Can Medical Tourism Save You Money?
A huge reason for choosing medical tourism is cost. Often, people can save incredible amounts of money—sometimes up to 90% —on healthcare overseas or across borders. In fact, paying the full cost in another country may end up costing less than your deductible and coinsurance. While many countries around the world have health care on par with United States or UK health care, there are others who do not have the same safety standards or availability of equipment. For this reason, it is always a good idea to be familiar with the medical scene in your destination of choice and weigh the savings against the risks you will be taking.
Will Insurance Cover Medical Tourism?
Few insurance plans cover medical tourism. Depending on your current health care provider, you may even have to purchase a travel insurance plan intended especially for healthcare abroad or medical tourism. However, this insurance will not cover the actual procedure itself. After all, it is based on a preexisting condition, and you will likely not need to pay nearly as much as you would have to at home, anyway. However, getting medical insurance for your trip overseas is highly recommended. Insurance will generally cover the costs if your procedure ends up having complications, any mishaps that may happen during your travels, and perhaps some of your cancellation costs in case you are unable to take your trip. One of the insurance companies that offers this type of insurance is Seven Corners. Their Bordercross Worldwide plan covers risks surrounding a medical tourism trip.
Best Destinations for Medical Tourism
Some countries are not ideal for medical tourism, while others are quite safe and pleasant for people seeking medical treatment. In addition, different locations specialize in different types of treatment. If you are looking to receive a specific type of medical care abroad, see below for a list of the best destinations for medical tourists.
Jordan: The best medical care in the Middle East is found in Jordan. In addition to having an excellent reputation, Jordan also offers health care at costs lower than a third of health care in the United States. Popular procedures include cosmetic surgeries, neurological procedures, and orthopedics.
Israel: If you need a surgical procedure that is impossibly expensive, Israeli hospitals may offer better-priced alternatives. For as low as a quarter of the cost of a procedure in the United States, hospitals in Israel offer bone marrow transplants, heart surgery, and in-vitro fertilization, among other things.
Iran: Iran is a good destination for people seeking drugs such as Hepatitis B and C treatments. Iran produces a smorgasbord of high-quality medicines that are sold at an extremely low cost. Be sure to check the visa requirements for travel to Iran.
While most countries in Africa are not hotspots for medical tourism – in fact, much of Africa hardly has enough medical care for its own people – South Africa is a notable exception. Some of the most popular treatments here are fertility procedures, dentistry and oral surgery, and cosmetic surgery.
Brazil: About a dozen medical centers in Brazil are accredited by the United States. Surgery in Brazil is very inexpensive for North American and European patients, due to the low value of the Brazilian Real compared to the euro and dollar. Brazil is famous as a cosmetic surgery hotspot with the “Brazilian Butt Lift” being one of the most popular procedures.
Traditionally, Costa Rica has been a destination for people seeking cheaper dental care. While this is still a common form of medical tourism in Costa Rica, this Central American country has become a destination with accredited hospitals offering a wide range of surgeries and services.
The ethics of medical tourism to China has been seriously questioned over the last several years. Rumors of organ harvesting from not only non-consenting deceased but also minority religious and ethnic groups and prisoners have arisen, making an organ transplant from China a potential human rights abuse. However, China is also a gateway to medical tourism countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and even Sweden, among others.
A better alternative to medical treatment in China is a trip to Hong Kong. All of Hong Kong’s 12 hospitals have been accredited by the United Kingdom, so you can rest easy when receiving treatment there. While Hong Kong’s medical realm is not always significantly less expensive, it is known for being excellent. If you need cancer treatment or any major surgery, Hong Kong is a top choice as a medical tourism destination.
Many people go to India for surgeries. India tends to have excellent surgeons, and the cost is much cheaper. Some insurance plans even encourage members to go to India for major (and costly) surgeries such as heart surgery. However, not all Indian medical centers are created equal. Do your research beforehand to ensure that you are receiving care from a hospital that uses up-to-date equipment and practices.
Because of Germany’s strict doctor training and health care system excellence, people from less-developed places in Europe and the Middle East choose to be treated by doctors in Germany. People from other highly developed countries often require health services by German specialists, as well.
Of course, there are many other countries that serve as medical tourism destinations. Malaysia, Pakistan, Finland, France, Serbia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Cuba and the United States are also common destinations. If you are hoping to find high quality-low cost healthcare for any condition, you are virtually guaranteed to find it somewhere. Why not look beyond your own borders?