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.
An international patient is someone who travels outside their home country to receive medical care or procedures. These procedures are often ones that would not be covered under the patient’s health insurance. Other times, the procedures are experimental or not offered in the patient’s home country. In many cases, however, patients undergo healthcare internationally because even with the added cost of airfare and accommodation, the work is less expensive than it would be when performed in their home country – often even after health insurance.
We have covered the most popular destinations for American medical tourists, but what are the most popular procedures overall for international patients? Based on findings by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and Patients Beyond Borders, here are the most common procedures and treatments for international patients:
Weight Loss Treatment
Despite the popularity of traveling internationally to receive medical care, there are certain risks associated with the practice. While medical tourism can be an incredibly successful and cost-effective solution, with opportunities to save up to 90% (according to the Medical Tourism Association), it can also be dangerous. If you are planning to engage in medical tourism, for any of the above procedures or more, make sure you’re covered against unexpected costs in the event of complications. Medical tourism insurance is there to give you peace of mind at an important and exciting time in your life.
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
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.
Medical tourism is the process tourists traveling outside the country of residence for the purpose of receiving medical care to save money on costly procedures.
In what is seen as surprising, many people, now travel even short distances like from the U.S.A to Canada for medical procedures. Ofcourse, the cost savings are main consideration here. Medical procedures like surgery are less expensive in Canada than in most parts of the U.S. However, the most attractive destinations for medical tourism are Thailand, the Philippines and India. India in particular is gaining rapid prominence as a haven for medical tourists because of its highly skilled physicians/surgeons at extremely affordable costs.
For example, a complicated heart valve replacement surgery would cost anywhere in the region of $200-250K in the United States. A similar procedure could cost just between $10-25,000 in India or Thailand. Not only would this price cover the surgery and hospitalization charges, it would also cover the return airfare and leave enough cash to even enjoy a relaxing post surgery vacation in these countries. Similarly, many dental procedures like a non metal dental bridge which averages around $6000 in the U.S, can cost around $500-600 in India. Plus, the quality and expertise of the medical professionals in many cases is on par or even higher than those found in the U.S or other western countries.
Some other destinations for medical tourism are South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Turkey, Hong Kong, Costa Rica, Jordan, Lithuania, Singapore and Hungary. Argentina and Brazil are especially growing in prominence for their cosmetic/plastic surgery skills.