Is Medical Travel Safe?

If you are considering going abroad to a foreign country to have medical work performed, one of the foremost questions on your mind is probably, “Is it safe?” The short answer is yes, but it depends on how you go about your journey. Here are 3 ways you can ensure your own safety when practicing medical tourism. 

Find a Reputable Medical Facility 

The facility you choose makes all the difference in how safe your medical tourism experience will be. There is no shortage of disreputable facilities that will pretend legitimacy then provide low-quality medical work or have predatory financial practices. This is why when you engage in medical tourism, you need to do substantial research to determine where to receive care. We recommend looking at facilities with JCI accreditation or ones recommended by the Medical Tourism Association and other professional organizations. You can trust these resources to help you find a safe hospital or facility to undergo your medical tourism treatment. 

Bring a Travel Companion 

When you’re in an unfamiliar country that you may never have visited before, you will probably feel more comfortable with a companion at your side. Your companion can not only make your recovery more enjoyable, but they can also keep an eye on the proceedings and perhaps even speak to the medical staff for you. You can make traveling easier, safer and more enjoyable by going with a friend or family member! 

Get Properly Insured 

If you’ve done any research into medical tourism, you’ll know that elective medical procedures performed abroad are typically not covered under your regular health insurance – if you have insurance at all. So when we say to get properly insured before undertaking medical tourism, we are not talking about your typical medical insurance coverage. Insurance for medical tourists is designed to protect you against financial loss in the event that you experience complications. There is also coverage available for your travel companion! 

Get a quote from us today. 

5 Types of People Who Should Consider Medical Tourism

Medical tourism – traveling abroad to receive medical care or procedures – attracts many types of patients. There are several types of people who may be especially suited to practicing medical tourism. These people include: 

Patients seeking cosmetic procedures like plastic surgery. 

Since cosmetic surgery and other procedures such as cosmetic dental work are often not considered “medically necessary,” they are known as elective procedures. Elective means that the patient chooses to have them done. This type of medical work is one of the most common reasons that patients engage in medical tourism. Since having medical work done in a foreign country can cost less (including travel and accommodation) than having it done in a patient’s home country, medical tourism is a great option for those looking to have some cosmetic work done. Depending on where the patient goes, the standards can be extremely high and the work amazing – all for less out of pocket than having the procedure done at home! 

Retirees who want procedures not covered under government sponsored health plans for seniors.

Many countries provide government sponsored health insurance plans for retired or senior individuals. However, this coverage has limits and often may not extend to cover high cost surgeries or experimental treatments. For older patients seeking this kind of care, medical tourism is a smart choice. As long as the patient is well enough to travel, the options are endless for receiving care abroad. 

Uninsured or underinsured individuals looking for cost savings. 

When someone has inadequate or no medical insurance, having medical procedures performed can be a huge deal. This is especially true of more involved procedures such as surgeries. When an uninsured or underinsured individual travels abroad to get medical work done, their total costs can easily be less than the cost of having the work done at home. There are still costs involved, but the cost reduction makes it well worth the expense for these individuals. 

Patients seeking alternative medicine or procedures not approved in their home country.

Even the highest developed countries may not have alternative medicine or homeopathic procedures that are widely available. Countries such as India, Mexico and Malaysia offer many popular alternative medicine procedures that international patients may not have access to at home – all for a great price. 

Adventure seekers who want to get a foreign vacation alongside their medical treatment.

One of the most attractive bonuses of engaging in medical tourism is the tourism aspect! With so many excellent destinations to choose from – different countries often specialize in different procedures – you can have a relaxing vacation in a beautiful spot while receiving top quality medical care. Compared with receiving care in your own country and recovering at home, getting to recover while on vacation abroad sounds pretty great. 

Why Participate In Medical Tourism?

Recently, Medical Tourism Insurance’s Tracy Simmons spoke with Carlos Vigil on his podcast “Vigilando Tus Ventas” about the work of our medical tourism insurance agency. You can listen to the podcast episode here. One of the basic questions covered was why people would want to engage in medical tourism. In this blog post we will dive deeper into the question of “why participate in medical tourism?”

Greater Access to Care 

In their home country, a patient’s access to the medical care they want or need may be limited. This could mean that the patient lives in a rural area where there are no specialty medical centers nearby. It may also mean that a patient is seeking a medical treatment that is not widely available to even approved in their home country due to government or other regulations. Even if a treatment or procedure is available, it may be out of reach financially or have a long waiting list of patients. The reasons people choose to engage in medical tourism are often interconnected. 

Impressive Cost Savings 

Most people know that the highest “developed” countries often have the most expensive medical care. However, what many people don’t know is that many lesser “developed” countries still have extremely advanced medical care to offer. In many cases, the major cities in these countries have far superior medical standards than what the patient’s home city has to offer. The incredible thing about getting medical care abroad is that a patient can save up to 90% on the exact same procedure with the same or a better standard of care. Even with the cost of plane tickets, accommodation, and other travel related expenses, medical tourism patients save money. 

Shorter Wait Times

Among the most highly developed countries, Canada has held the title of longest healthcare wait times for several years. These wait times apply not only to medically necessary surgeries and procedures but also to elective surgeries. For this reason, many Canadians (as well as residents of other countries with long wait times) choose to engage in medical tourism, which is most commonly utilized for elective surgeries. Elective surgeries may not be considered “medically necessary” but to the patient, they are necessary. Waiting months on end is not an option. By traveling abroad to receive medical care, patients can get the best total package for their procedure: excellent standard of care, reduced out of pocket costs, shorter waiting times, and a vacation abroad all in one.

Medical Tourism in the Caribbean

Many of the Caribbean countries are popular vacation destinations because of their stunning locales, relaxing beaches, tropical weather, and booming tourism industries. Another, perhaps lesser known draw of the Caribbean region is its world class medical facilities and healthy medical tourism market. If you are looking to engage in medical tourism, and you want to really enjoy the tourism aspect, consider traveling to a country in the Caribbean for your procedure and recovery. Here are some of the top options.

Bahamas 

As the closest Caribbean islands for travelers from the United States, and one of the islands with English as the official language, the Bahamas are a great choice for medical tourists who don’t wish to travel far to receive great care at reduced costs. Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, boasts some of the most highly regarded medical facilities in the Caribbean, including the JCI accredited Doctors Hospital. In addition to high standards and highly trained medical providers, the Bahamas are, of course, a beautiful and relaxing place to recover from a surgery or medical procedure. 

Barbados 

Another Caribbean country that uses English as its official language, Barbados is a well regarded destination for medical tourists from English speaking countries like the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. From plastic surgery to fertility treatments, you can receive just about any medical service in Barbados. The island has several esteemed medical facilities, including Bayview Hospital, a member of the Medical Tourism Association. 

Cayman Islands

With an abundance of entertainment, relaxation, and other attractive elements for convalescence, the Cayman Islands should be on your list of medical tourism destinations to consider. Health City Cayman Islands is the largest hospital in the Caribbean to have received the JCI’s Gold Seal of Approval. There are a number of additional public and private hospitals and healthcare facilities as well.

Whatever operation you are considering, engaging in medical tourism is always a smart choice financially. You may very well spend 50% or less of what you’d spend for the same amount in your home country. With savings like those, and attractions like the Caribbean has to offer, we hope you’ll consider traveling to one of these countries for your medical care. If you need medical complications insurance, because even in paradise the unexpected can occur, please reach out to us today for a quote. 

Prominent Medical Tourism Organizations

Like any healthcare system, the industry of medical tourism needs to be held to certain standards and meet certain regulations. However, unlike traditional federal healthcare, medical tourism is often not strictly required to meet these standards and regulations. How, then, is the industry held accountable for benchmark practices of safety, ethics, and information? The answer lies in the world’s medical tourism organizations. Here are several of the most prominent. 

The Medical Tourism Association (MTA) 

Centered in the United States, the Medical Tourism Association is one of the best known organizations that operates in support of the medical tourism/medical travel industry. The MTA defines themselves as “a global non-profit that educates and advocates on behalf of the Medical Tourism and International Patient Industry.” The organization fosters communication with medical facilities and professionals, insurance companies, governments, and other players in the medical tourism field to expand education about globalized healthcare and raise the standards of care all over the world. As part of their mission to achieve this goal, the MTA offers its members (which include medical travel companies, insurance companies, international hospitals and healthcare providers) access to top-of-the-line educational resources and certification opportunities. The Medical Tourism Association has strong ties with members in the U.S., Canada, and Europe but they have offices serving Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East as well. 

The European Medical Tourism Alliance (EUMTA)

Based in Hungary, the EUMTA has similar goals to the MTA but centers its focus on countries within the European Union. Its goal is to help these countries establish themselves as centers for medical travel, as a solution for healthcare system deficiencies in the UK and US. The EUMTA’s vision is for a united Europe to create a better medical tourism market together than they would be able to create separately. 

International Board of Medicine and Surgery (IBMS)

The IBMS exists to connect patients and medical travel companies with leading hospitals, healthcare facilities, and doctors across the world. The IBMS provides certifications to all its members, so patients have confidence they are engaging in a safe medical tourism experience. Certifications may be awarded to physicians, dentists, surgeons and other medical professionals as well as to health care centers such as hospitals and clinics. 

International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT) 

Recently celebrating 60 years of service, IAMAT exists to help all medical travelers by providing access to up-to-date information on health and immunization for travelers from any country in the world. IAMAT also sponsors scholarships to foster and improve standards in countries where a medical tourism market is newly emerging.