Counting costs: 10 Top destinations for Medical Tourism in the World
January 9, 2019
Posted by: Dr. Nnamdi Elenwoke
Category: Health News
When we are talking about the phrase “Medical tourism”, we mean seeking medical care in another country. Millions of people travel overseas for treatment every year.
There are so many factors which trigger the decision to seek medical help abroad. A lot of individuals worldwide travel for treatment. Sometimes because of the affordable cost of treatments in another country (see below). Others may travel to get a procedure or therapy that is not available in their country.
The most common procedures are cosmetic surgery, dentistry and heart surgery among others.
In this article of Medical Tourism we will talk about the Top 10 Destinations. We make comparison between the cost of treatment in some countries. And the costs that you could save back to your pulse if you visit them. This will help you to make better decisions.
Before starting a medical tourism, keep in mind the following:
1. Ensure that you have a consultation with the medical practitioners for at least 4 to 6 weeks before traveling. To discuss general information on the trip. Including specific risks related to the procedure and travel before and after the procedure.
2. It is also important to ensure that all your current health issues are well controlled. And your regular health care provider is aware of your travel plans and medical care abroad.
3. Make sure that you verify the qualifications of the health care provider who will perform the procedure. And also the credentials of their facility.
4. Make sure that you have a documented agreement with the healthcare provider. Or even a group organizing the trip.
5. If the country speak a different language find a way that will ease communication between your doctor. This includes other people that will be taking care of you.
6. Make you have copies of your medical records. Including allergies, laboratory and other tests related to your disease.
7. Also take with you the copies of all prescriptive drugs. And those ones you are taking, including their brand names, generic names, manufacturers, and dosages.
8. Before leaving, contact your doctor for follow up care.
9. Make sure you take time to contact your healthcare provider. Before planning leisure activities such as sunbathing, drinking alcohol, swimming or long-term excursions.
10. Give copies of all your medical records before you go home.
Medical Tourism Top Destinations
Here are the top destinations for medical tourism in the world.
Thailand is in the Southeast of Asia. In Thailand, there are approximately 39 accredited hospitals in the country. These have excellent medical services. Making it one of the most trusted and favorite medical destinations in the world. Thailand specializes in dental treatment.
2. United States
The United States is famous for its technological advances. The US offers various medical procedures. From health problems to cosmetic surgery, sex reassignment and other advanced treatments.
Singapore is an Asian country. It is among the top ten countries with excellent systems of health care, according to the World Health Organization. The country has licensed medical institutions with cost of treatment that is lower than in most developed countries. This has made Singapore one of the most popular destinations for medical tourists.
This is the second most populated country in the world. India also has high-quality medical facilities. They offer treatment at an affordable cost than other countries, such as the United Kingdom.
This mediterranean country is well known for activities such as bullfights, flamenco music and dance, exotic beaches and plenty of sunshine. Added to this, Spain has gain prominence for its excellent medical system. Which provides cost-effective and quality medical treatment for patients from around the world. Their health industry has an excellent reputation of efficient post-operative care after surgery. This has made over millions of tourists go to Spain for their medical treatment.
Mexico is popular for so many things such as its rich culture, delicious cuisine and good taste of art. It has opened its doors to medical travelers all over the world. Mexico is best known for its advanced care in dentistry and cosmetic surgery. Medical care in Mexico allows the patient to save 40% to 65% compared to the cost of similar services in the United States.
Malaysia won the International Medical Travel Journal’s award for “Health and Medical Tourism Destination of the year” in 2015 and 2016. They are among the best health care providers in South-East Asia. Healthy travelers visiting Malaysia will save between 65% and 80% of health costs compared to the United States.
8. Costa Rica
In recent years, this Central American country has ranked high in dentistry and cosmetic surgery. Even above Canada and the United States. The country also develops a reputation in the area of eye surgery, cancer treatment, and bariatric surgery. Costs of healthcare services in Costa Rica are 45% to 65% lower than in the some developed countries. Thus saving more money for patients.
This Asian country has gradually developed into medical tourism in recent years. Taiwan is on the verge of becoming the center of many medical areas. With the advancement in the treatment of heart disease and orthopedic problems in the country. It leads the role in kidney transplantation in Asia. Patients usually save between 40% and 55% of health care costs in Taiwan compared to the cost of similar services in the United States or Canada.
Turkey is a strong competitor in the medical tourism market. There is no time to wait for queue; health care system is affordable and of quality standard. The major procedures done is here include transplant surgery. Also radiation therapy for cancer, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, and genomic medicine.
Spain has gain prominence for its excellent medical system which provides cost-effective and quality medical treatment for patients from around the world.
What is the cost of medical tourism?
Prices vary considerably. When you visit some hospitals’ websites, you see their price for various procedures.
It may be difficult to compare quotes from different hospitals. This is because the services they provide vary from facility to facility.
A hospital quotation can only cover the procedure. But a quote from another hospital may include an airline ticket, hotel, rehabilitation, and follow-up care. Taxes and tariffs can also be omitted. Ask the hospital abroad to offer you a quote before initiating the process.
Also take note of the non-financial costs: being away from home and family, uncomfortable flight and staying away from work. If the medical procedure does not go as well as planned, it may take longer than expected. To make these risks easier to swallow, I recommended that you bring a partner along with you.
Also take note of the non-financial costs: being away from home and family, uncomfortable flight and staying away from work.
The costs of health care are growing in developed countries. Which in many ways impact the medical tourism market. Developed countries are popular for their highly qualified medical professionals. These offer advanced treatment.
Unfortunately, healthcare costs in these countries are skyscraping. This is true especially for the uninsured. Making it difficult for residents to receive immediate medical attention and affordable treatment.
This is the major reason some people cherry-pick a medical tourism destination for quality and affordable medical treatments.
In Germany, the price and value are very good and affordable for knee prosthesis. This same procedure in the US can cost more than $ 30,000. But, in Germany, this same procedure is 40 to 50% less.
The cost of medical procedures in Panama is considered more accessible compared to other countries. The cost of porcelain facets can range from $ 1,500 to $ 2,500. But in Panama, the same procedure can be possible with a reduction of 50% or less.
Malaysia has become a popular destination for medical tourism. Due to its best and most favorable health care in the world. For example, a root canal treatment in the United States costs about $ 700. But it will cost only $ 250 to $ 300 in Malaysia.
According to a recent report, the average savings for the most visited countries for medical tourism are:
Brazil: 30 to 45%
India: 50 to 90%
Taiwan: 35 to 50%
Turkey: 50 to 70%
Singapore: 35 to 50%
Data compared to the US as of 2016.
Managing Your Savings
Since health care costs are high, medical tourism could save a lot in surgical procedures. Provided the patient is ready to travel to a foreign country where costs are much lower.
The concept of traveling for treatment is not a new inventory. But a modern concept of medical tourism (traveling abroad with a lower cost of care) has only surfaced over the past few decades.
A lot of clients pay for healthcare from there purse. Clients in this categories include the uninsured or under-insured patients who are in need of expensive surgery. As well as clients seeking extra cosmetic or dental procedures.
At this moment the question remains; will my insurance cover medical procedures overseas?
Here is the answer to this: “Generally not.”
Although some major American insurers; such as Aetna, Cigna Humana etc, are increasingly putting this into consideration. Some small companies offer incentives to go overseas.
Insurers get attracted to medical tourism at the low cost of these procedures. But, their major concern lies in facing legal action in the event that things do not work as planned at the hospital. In this case you should call your insurance service department. To find out if you have coverage for visiting hospitals abroad.
The concept of traveling for treatment is not a new inventory. But a modern concept of medical tourism has only surfaced over the past few decades.
What Big Insurance Companies are doing
Demand for health care is growing across borders. Employers and insurers use this trend in an attempt to cut costs. This is because of the availability of quality alternative health care abroad. That is affordable and at highly competitive prices.
Leading insurance companies, including Aetna and CIGNA, are now considering medical tourism. Which has until now been home to uninsured and under-insured patients. They largest insurers in the United States are already taking steps to expand coverage on international plans. Thereby getting affordable healthcare in foreign countries.
BlueCross BlueShield, a South Carolina-based insurance company, has partnered with healthcare providers in Thailand, Turkey, Singapore, Turkey, and Costa Rica. This is to create low-premium, high-deductible insurance plans. Whose target are workers on a low wage and whose primary concern is saving cost.
Aetna is a gaint profitable healthcare company in the United States. It has collaborated with Apollo Hospital in India. The idea is to develop an insurance plan for Americans to receive health care at the hospital.
The United Health Group has developed a similar program. Benefitting Bumrungrad International Hospital in Thailand and the Apollo Hospital in India.
The small story is true in Europe. In Ukraine, the European Insurance Alliance offers a program where its insured patient can undergo a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation and treatment in Israel under either the standard package or the VIP package.
Medical tourism is still known to be a developing industry. With more than 14 million patients seeking healthcare yearly. Soon it will grow into a borderless industry. As advances in technology, as well as better collaborations from insurance companies, persist in global healthcare.