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Advantages and disadvantages of Medical Tourism

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Feb 02, 2013
4.8 / 5(4 Ratings)

Spa treatmentWhat is Medical Tourism?

 

Medical tourism is the process of seeking and receiving your medical care abroad, instead of using your native services.  Invariably, the reason for making a decision like this is cost, pure and simple; some medical procedures in your homeland may be so expensive, it may not be fiscally possible to have them done, so an alternate plan is needed.  However, is the trade-off for the security your own country offers against the price difference worth the trip?  Well, let’s take a look.


Advantages of Medical Tourism


It is well documented that certain medical procedures are more economical in some countries – i.e. Thailand, India, Singapore – than others; in fact, the net difference can sometimes be startling.  The New England Journal of Medicine recently reported about an American tradesman, who suffered an acute mitral-valve prolapse which needed urgent surgery.  He was quoted $200K by a hospital in his locality, which was way out of his budget.  Another hospital in the US quoted him $40K, before he eventually found a hospital in New Delhi, India who were prepared to do it for $7K; in summary, throw in the price of a return flight, a few nights accommodation in a local hotel to recuperate, he was looking at a 95 per cent hair cut on the cost of the initial quote.  But more importantly, the cost was manageable and he could get the procedure done.


Disadvantages of Medical Tourism


Cost is usually the primary reason for opting for treatment abroad, so what are you sacrificing to save a few bucks?  How much are you willing to concede to get the treatment you can afford?


Will you be travelling alone or bringing some family members or friends with you?  This will of course add to your cost, but would you like to be recuperating in a foreign country on your own?  Would your family be prepared to let you?  It is likely that you will be advised not to fly in the immediate aftermath of the procedure, so be prepared to spend numerous days and nights tied up.


Getting treatment abroad – no matter the reputation of the hospital – is always a flight into the unknown.  You may be talking to doctors who can’t articulate the details of the procedure to your understanding.  You might wonder are these hospitals regulated and managed to the same standards and practices as your local hospitals.  Is there a reason why your local hospital is quoting such an extraordinarily high price in comparison?  Maybe the procedure just is that complicated?


Will you be covered by your insurance company?  There may be a small chance that your premium may not cover procedures which are carried out overseas, so obviously, this should be checked out in advance.  You would imagine they would encourage this type of cost effectiveness, but they must also take into consideration the chances of malpractice or error on behalf of the hospital involved.  Some hospitals may have a tenuous reputation when it comes to libelous malpractice claims.

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