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. 

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.