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. 

Employers and Medical Tourism

Why would an employer want to offer a medical tourism insurance package as part of their employee benefits? There are several reasons why offering medical tourism insurance can be a good option for employers.

Why Medical Tourism?

First are the benefits of medical tourism itself. By traveling abroad to receive medical procedures, patients can save up to an astonishing 90% depending on the procedure and location, reported the Medical Tourism Association. Many patients choose to participate in medical tourism to undergo cosmetic surgery, however it is not unusual for a medical tourist to travel abroad for joint replacements, cardiac surgery, cancer treatments and other elective procedures. Medical tourism is no longer a niche practice. This is why some employers are beginning to offer medical tourism insurance as part of a voluntary benefits package.

Medical Tourism Insurance as Employee Benefits 

As previously mentioned, medical tourism is no longer niche; in fact, the market grows every year and the practice is increasing in popularity. For some employers, insurance that covers complications and travel companions for medical tourism is a smart and forward-thinking benefits option to offer. If you are an employer who offers self-funded benefits plans, you are the best fit for this option. 

Medical Tourism Saves Everyone Money 

Employers, insurance companies, patients – everyone saves on costs by undergoing medical travel. For some employers, who faced increased costs after the passing of the Affordable Care Act, encouraging medical tourism became a way for both the employer and their employees to reduce costs. The International Healthcare Research Center reported that self-funded employers may see savings of up to 70% by sending their employees abroad to receive medical care. These savings are after factoring in the costs of travel, accommodations and even companion costs. To sweeten the pot, it is easy for employers to offer small yet valuable incentives to employees if they choose to take advantage of the medical travel option. What these incentives are varies from employer to employer, but common ones include reimbursing travel expenses, waiving deductibles, and even cash incentives. 

To learn more about how you can enroll in an employer plan to provide medical tourism complications and travel companion insurance as part of your benefits package, contact us today!

Traveling Abroad for Cosmetic Medical Procedures

There are many types of procedures and surgeries that patients travel internationally to receive. One of the largest categories in medical tourism is cosmetic procedures. What does this look like, and what are the benefits and risks? 

Medical Tourism for Cosmetic Work 

In 2018, Journal of Travel Medicine reported statistics regarding the most common cosmetic medical procedures performed on patients participating in medical tourism. Breast augmentation and liposuction led with the highest percentages. 

Choosing to travel abroad to undergo cosmetic procedures is a smart idea for patients looking to reduce costs while still receiving high quality medical care. 

Benefits of Getting Cosmetic Surgery Abroad 

Cosmetic surgeries are considered elective procedures. This means they are, by the health insurance companies’ definition, not “medically necessary” and therefore not eligible for insurance coverage. Therefore having a cosmetic procedure performed in your home country, especially if you live in a country like the United States or United Kingdom, can entail high out of pocket expenses. That’s where medical tourism comes in. In other countries, the cost of the same procedure can be 30-70% less than it is in the US. On top of this enticing opportunity to save money, many foreign medical facilities have state-of-the-art technology and top-level care. If you are picturing medical tourism as a run-down hospital with questionable staff and equipment, your image is far from the truth.

Risks of Getting Cosmetic Surgery Abroad 

Any medical procedure, no matter where it takes place, will have risks. However, medical tourism patients do face some unique risks that patients in their home countries do not. The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) laid out some useful guidelines for patients traveling abroad to receive cosmetic work. Guidelines include checking credentials and references of your surgeon or practitioner, understanding who among the staff speaks your language, making a plan for recovery, and preparing for the event of complications. 

The latter is something we can help you with. Our medical tourism insurance protects international patients against the excess burdens of unexpected complications. Our most popular product for medical tourists covers travel, accident and complications services and benefits with options for travel companions.

Medical Tourism’s Growth Factors

As we enter a new decade, it’s clear that medical tourism is not going anywhere. The industry is growing and continues to grow each year. Only a handful of years ago, you may have heard the term “medical tourism” and wondered, “what is that?” However, now the industry is widely known, and lots of people can probably say they know someone who has engaged in the practice of traveling to receive elective medical care. But what’s behind medical tourism’s growth? 

What is driving the growth of medical tourism?

There are a number of circumstances that have conspired to make the modern world increasingly suited for medical tourism. First, traveling is easier – and more affordable – than ever before. With a range of lower-cost airlines to choose from, medical tourists can end up paying less in total for their procedure and travel costs than they would pay for only the procedure at home. In their home countries like the US and UK, patients are faced with excruciatingly long wait times, ever-increasing healthcare costs, and sometimes a lack of access to quality facilities or good health insurance. Medical tourism is designed to eliminate all of these concerns. 

How are patients finding out about medical tourism? 

As more and more people worldwide are connected to the internet, more and more people are learning about medical tourism. The increased exposure online has certainly contributed to the growing numbers of international patients. 

What has made medical tourism a more attractive healthcare option?

It takes more than online exposure to make a practice popular. It has to truly deliver the results it claims to. Traveling to receive medical care and procedures is indeed risky, but that is why there are entities such as the JCI that give medical facilities the stamp of approval for international patients. Not only that, but many international facilities and hospitals have cutting edge technology that is equal or superior to the technology found in patients’ home countries. Of course, there is also the tourism aspect to consider. The standard of care in many international facilities and hospitals is top-notch, and therefore the recovery period for patients can almost double as a vacation. This is just an added plus to medical tourism. 

Whether you are a patient, employer, facilitator, or hospital needing medical tourism insurance, we can assist you in getting the coverage that you need. Please reach out to us or get a quote online. 

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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