Medical tourism involves leaving your home country to seek medical or dental care abroad. This is often done for cost reasons. Alternatively, some people simply want to combine their medical procedures with a well-deserved vacation.
Medical tourism continues to become more popular, and medical clinics catering to foreigners are springing up in countries such as India, Costa Rica, Brazil and Mexico. You can make medical tourism arrangements on your own or plan your trip with the help of a medical concierge or medical tourism company.
Saving money is very important, but there are other aspects of medical tourism that you should consider. Before you grab your passport and sign a contract to have a medical procedure done in another country, step back and ask yourself these questions.
Find out as much as you can about the doctors and hospital you plan to use. Read reviews, call or Skype the doctor and comb the Internet for information.
Be sure your doctor is licensed and accredited and your hospital’s accreditation comes from a respected international organization.
Learn about the procedure you plan to have; pay close attention to recovery time, rehabilitation requirements and potential complications.
Be sure you know how much your procedure will cost and whether or not your insurance provider will pay for it.
Find out whether you will need to bring supplies from home to use while you are in the hospital.
Your trip abroad will be over in a few weeks, but your relationship with your personal physician will, ideally, last for much longer. Be sure to discuss your medical tourism plans with your doctor before signing a contract.
If your doctor objects to your trip, find out why, and take those reasons into consideration. You will need to reach some kind of compromise with your doctor before your departure date, even if it is the “I don’t approve of your treatment plan, but I can’t stop you” type of agreement.
Even if you have been assured that everyone in your chosen hospital speaks your language, you will have to interact with people who may not understand you at airports, hotels and in other public places.
Consider learning a few phrases in the local language and writing down key words and phrases on an index card. Learn the words for your medical issues, any allergies you have, polite expressions and foods you dislike. Be sure you know how to ask for emergency help.
Having surgery is never fun, and recovering alone can be challenging. Ideally, you should travel with a family member or friend who is willing to spend time with you at the hospital, run errands and advocate for you if complications arise.
If you can’t find a travel companion, consider working with a medical tourism company or medical concierge. While you won’t have anyone at your side in the hospital, you will have a local resource to turn to if you need extra help.
Even the simplest medical procedure involves the possibility of complications. Be sure you understand the risks involved with your particular procedure and know what you will do if you find yourself confronting post-operative illness or infection.
Will you have someone travel from home to help you? Ask your personal physician to talk with your doctors by telephone? Request a transfer to your home hospital? Make a plan and share it with a trusted family member or friend.
Tip: If you think you might want to be transported to your home hospital, you will need to purchase medical evacuation insurance that covers transportation to your home town.
In the end, you must weigh the pros and cons and decide whether you will save enough money to make the extra risks worthwhile.
Have you tried medical tourism? How did your expectations differ from your actual experience? Share your medical tourism tips in the comments section below.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Consult a doctor before doing anything described in this article.