Medical Travel and Complications Insurance vs. Travel Insurance

The differences between travel insurance and medical travel and complications insurance (often referred to as medical tourism insurance) are pretty significant. However, many Americans probably still have misconceptions about what travel insurance provides and what its coverage includes and excludes. 

What Travel Insurance Does 

Essentially, travel insurance is intended for unexpected occurrences when traveling, usually for vacation. Travel insurance helps relieve the burden of unanticipated financial expenses should a covered incident occur. These incidents can include trip cancellation or interruption, luggage or credit card theft, and unexpected medical expenses during travel abroad. For our purposes, it is important to note that your standard travel insurance only covers unexpected medical expenses or emergencies. How is this different from medical travel and complications insurance? It’s all about intent. 

Insurance for Medical Tourism 

Thousands of Americans each year undergo medical tourism – the process of traveling to receive medical treatment in a foreign country. Unlike the type of medical emergency or accident that may kick travel insurance into gear, the procedures involved in medical tourism are carefully planned in advance. There are many reasons why patients choose to do this: to pay less for procedures, to undergo treatments or work that is not approved in the US, and other reasons. So what does medical tourism insurance do, anyway? For one, unlike travel insurance, it does not pay for the medical costs themselves. 

Medical Travel Insurance Is Also Not Health Insurance

This is important. If a person is traveling abroad for the express purpose of receiving medical care, neither travel insurance, health insurance, nor medical travel insurance will pay for the cost of the procedure itself. Patients who choose medical tourism must self pay for their procedures, and often choose to do this because of the lower healthcare costs in other countries. 

What Medical Tourism Insurance Does

Essentially, medical tourism insurance for individuals provides coverage for complications that may occur during the patient’s procedure or during recovery. With all the benefits of medical tourism, there are certain risks as well. While the benefits outweigh the risks for those looking for less expensive medical care, the smart patient will still want to have the added protection of medical travel and complications insurance. In the event of complications, this insurance provides relief from any financial hardship that may be incurred. It is a necessity for anyone considering international medical tourism travel. 

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Medical Tourism in Asia

Asia has long been a leader in destinations for medical tourism. Medical tourism is when a person travels to a foreign country to receive medical care at reduced costs. Patients visit Asian countries to receive medical care and procedures for several reasons. In addition to offering cheaper prices than a patient could find in their home country, such as the U.S., Asian countries also offer comfortable and enjoyable recovery periods. Here are some interesting, and perhaps surprising, facts about medical tourism in Asia. 

Asia Truly Caters to Medical Tourists 

There are many top-of-the-line hospitals in Asia that foreigners often visit. The countries absolutely welcome these visitors and have created an atmosphere where it is easy for foreigners to acclimate. Most hospitals have international desks where patients can discuss medical matters in English and even get assistance with finding local accommodation. The bedside manner in these hospitals and medical facilities is second to none. From the time they arrive to the post-op recovery period, American patients will be treated with the utmost care and respect. Medical tourism is a valuable economic asset to these Asian countries, so the facilities want to make sure their patients have a positive experience. 

Singapore Has the Best Healthcare System in Asia 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Singapore has the number one healthcare system in the continent. Furthermore, WHO ranked Singapore’s healthcare system number 6 in the entire world. Although costs for medical procedures in Singapore are higher than in other Asian countries, they are still significantly less than costs in America. The healthcare system in Singapore is highly regulated and has to adhere to certain standards for safety. This should be a comfort to any medical tourists who choose this country for their procedures. 

Thailand Has Over 50 JCI Accredited Hospitals and Medical Facilities 

The Joint Commission International (JCI), an organization with a mission to increase international medical standards, awards their coveted accreditation to facilities that meet or exceed their standards. It is incredible that Thailand, as of a 2018 count, has over 50 accredited facilities and hospitals. Bangkok alone has 9 within its city limits, including the well known Bumrungrad International, which was the first international hospital in Asia to receive the prestigious standard. 

Complications Can Arise Even the Top Medical Tourism Destinations

Just because Asian countries like Singapore, Thailand, India, Malaysia, and more are the top destinations does not mean your procedures will go 100% smoothly. No one wants to consider the possibility of issues arising, but you must be realistic and realize that is is a potential threat. If you are already spending your hard-earned money on traveling to an Asian country and having medical work performed, you will not want to incur even more expenses if complications arise. This is where we can help you, by providing medical tourism complication insurance. You don’t want to have to use it, but if you do, you will be so grateful to have it. 

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Where Are American Medical Tourists Going For Health Care?

The United States has the most expensive healthcare in the world, so it’s no surprise that Americans have increasingly been traveling to receive medical care. For Americans without health insurance or Americans seeking procedures that are not covered by their health insurance, traveling to another country to have the work done is a great option. This practice is called medical tourism. Common procedures for American medical tourists include cosmetic, dental, and surgical work. But what countries are Americans visiting to receive this care?

Latin America
Top medical tourism destinations in Latin America include Mexico and Costa Rica. In Mexico, medical tourism is so popular that many towns along the United States-Mexico border have an incredibly high concentration of medical offices. Dental work is an especially popular type of medical tourism in Mexico.

The Caribbean
In addition to gorgeous beaches, the Caribbean region also boasts world-class medical facilities where patients can receive procedures for a fraction of the cost. The countries of the Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Cuba and Puerto Rico are the top destinations that American medical tourists visit to receive healthcare away from home. Cosmetic work and cardiac surgeries are especially common procedures.

Countries like India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand are the most popular Asian destinations for American medical tourists. Even with the cost of airfare to these far away destinations, the overall cost of traveling to receive medical care in Asia is less than the cost of getting the same work done in the United States. The most popular procedures vary from country to country, but Asia is such a popular medical tourism destination that no matter what you need done, you can find an experienced practitioner to perform it.

Whether you’re visiting Latin America, the Caribbean, or Asia to engage in medical tourism, there are unexpected costs that may arise due to complications. While we hope no complications happen, you’ll be better off with the extra protection that only medical tourism insurance can provide. Don’t let your international healthcare experience ruin you financially.

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Does Travel Insurance Cover Elective Medical Procedures?

Most people know that your standard health insurance may only cover operations performed in another country that are deemed to be medically necessary. In some cases, your health insurance may not cover anything at all. So where does that leave the patient who chooses to travel to a different country to receive medical care – especially in the form of an elective procedure?

Travel Insurance Considerations

Your first thought might be that travel insurance will cover any medical procedure you choose to have while abroad. However, this is not true! Travel insurance does not cover elective procedures, which are some of the most common reasons people choose to travel abroad for medical care. These procedures include things like cosmetic surgery, breast enhancement or reduction, cosmetic dental work, and more. It is great to have travel insurance, just make sure you realize that it will not cover the cost of elective surgeries performed overseas or in another country.

Medical Tourism Benefits

Traveling to another country to receive medical procedures of all kinds is a practice that has been gaining in popularity for several years. It’s easy to see why, when you consider just how much cheaper it is to receive medical care overseas than it is to get it in the US, even when you do have insurance coverage. This is why you don’t need to worry about whether your travel insurance will provide coverage for overseas elective procedures – it will be less expensive to get the work done in another country anyway!

International Medical Complications 

What you do need to worry about is the possibility of having complications arise when you have your medical work performed away from your home country. This is not meant to scare you. You simply must realize that there is a possibility of complications, and being miles and miles away from home with no way to pay for the costs incurred by these complications is a situation you do not want to find yourself in. This is why purchasing medical tourism insurance is a wonderful way to give yourself (and your loved ones who are accompanying you or staying behind) peace of mind as you go through the process of receiving medical work in another country.

Medical Complications Insurance for International Patients

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Medical Tourism Facts: Australia

Medical tourism is not just for Americans. Many Australian patients are choosing to receive medical care and elective procedures outside of their home country. The high cost of medical work in Australia is driving these patients to seek care elsewhere, despite the added costs of travel and accommodation.

Here are some of the most current facts about Australian medical tourism:

  • Most Australian medical tourists elect to receive their treatments and procedures in Asian countries, including Thailand, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Turkey.
  • The most common types of procedures that Australian medical tourists travel to receive are cosmetic surgery and dental work.
  • Often, these cosmetic procedures for Australian medical tourists include breast augmentations, facelifts, and tummy-tucks.
  • Non-cosmetic procedures are on the rise for Australian medical tourists. These include surgeries for spine, neck, and shoulder as well as knee and hip replacements and fertility treatments.
  • In many countries abroad, the standard of care is much higher than patients’ home countries.
  • Patients can also enjoy rest and recovery in resort-style care facilities.
  • Roughly 15,000 Australian patients travel abroad for medical tourism each year.
  • Australians who travel for cosmetic procedures spend roughly $300 million per year on treatments, and this is still while saving up to 80% on the cost of treatments.
  • Australian Medicare is unlikely to cover any overseas medical treatment that is not deemed an emergency.
  • Engaging in medical tourism does carry risks that patients need to be aware of.
  • Standard travel insurance will, in most cases, not provide any coverage for costs related to medical complications.
  • Medical tourism insurance is the only coverage that is guaranteed to provide assistance with the cost of complications.

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