How to Minimize the Risks of Medical Tourism
Medical tourism is trending upwards
For many Americans, the rising costs of healthcare are making expensive medical procedures such as knee surgery, plastic surgery, and dental work increasingly prohibitive. Each year, more and more Americans seek medical attention in other countries; giving rise to the phenomenon known as medical tourism.
Medical tourism refers to the phenomenon of patients traveling to other countries to undergo medical procedures and to receive medical care. This is primarily due to the cheaper cost of medical treatments in other countries. Some patients go abroad to seek medical procedures which are not being offered or are not available in the US. Medical tourism is a burgeoning industry, which “is expected to reach USD 179.6 billion by 2026.”
If you’re considering having a medical procedure done abroad, then you’ll also need to consider the potential risks and problems to ensure the safety of your treatment. Here are some tips that will help you properly prepare for your medical:
- Know who is paying: Elective medical tourism procedures such as cosmetic surgeries are often not covered by health insurance, so patients are expected to pay for their procedures from their own pockets. However, many insurance providers are willing to shoulder some of the expenses for overseas medical care such as knee replacements, hip replacements, and dental care. If you need an expensive treatment and have no insurance, or you want an expensive elective procedure, then traveling internationally may be a great option for you.
- Find a good facility: A good place to start is to search SAMI-Aid for a list of trustworthy international clinics offering the treatment you need. We also recommend consulting the Joint Commission International (JCI) website. JCI is the leading accreditation agency which ensures high safety and quality standards for hospitals worldwide. There are over 660 facilities worldwide which comply with JCI’s rigorous standards and may be trusted with your medical care. Other legitimate accreditations such as the DNV International Accreditation for Hospitals, the International Society for Quality in Healthcare (ISQua), and even ISO 9001 certification are also good indicators of a facility’s competence and the quality of their services.
- Be prepared for the procedure: If your trip is to a country where you don’t speak the language, then find out whether the doctor and hospital staff speak English or whether you will need an interpreter. Bring copies of your medical records along with you and inform the facility and staff of any special needs or allergies you may have. Bring copies of your prescriptions and medication lists (including brand names and generic names, manufacturers and dosage info).
- Arrange for follow-up care: Before undergoing the procedure, make arrangements for follow-up care with your local primary care provider.
- Vacation with caution: If you are planning vacation activities, such as swimming, drinking, or sunbathing, consult with your doctor first to determine whether those activities are allowed after your surgery or procedure.
- Get everything on record: Get copies of all the medical records from your procedure before you return to the States; including electronic documents and files.
- Take air travel only when it’s safe: Some procedures may require a period of recuperation before you can safely take a flight back. The CDC discourages travelling by plane at least 10 days after chest or abdominal surgery, and 7 to 10 days after cosmetic surgery. You should plan your trip with enough time in your destination country for recovery before returning home.
- Find a good doctor: Look for a doctor who is board-certified in the specific specialty which your desired treatment falls under. Not all doctors who practice in a specific area are board-certified in that area. If you can get in touch with that doctor’s previous patients, talk to them as well. Make sure to obtain in writing the details of your agreement with any international doctor or clinic you intend to receive care from.
If you need a very expensive medical treatment, medical tourism may be a practical answer for you. However, as with every potential solution, it can be a double-edged sword: there are associated risks which must be carefully weighed and considered for your procedure to be a successful one. Exercise due diligence and do your homework before committing to any treatment or procedure.
SAMI-Aid will help you decide whether to become a medical tourist
One way to start getting ready is to look for a suitable facility or hospital using SAMI-Aid’s exclusive Medical Tourism Wizard search tool. We have painstakingly researched many international facilities, and included only those which have a good reputation for high standards of safety and quality. These facilities are also located in attractive destinations and offer 30% to 80% savings on surgeries and medical treatments versus the same treatments in the U.S. Our Medical Tourism Wizard is available to all SAMI-Aid Premium members. For just $79.99 per month, Premium members also get two free doctor or therapy visits per month, plus access to our Provider & Price Search tool for comparing prices on office visits with local doctors and clinics. Register for an account today and travel the world with SAMI-Aid!