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 Market Predictions

Medical tourism is popular (and economical) for a number of reasons. As the cost of medical treatments in developed countries continues to grow, medical tourism – the act of traveling to a foreign country to receive low cost, high quality medical care – will only continue to rise in popularity. 

Driving Factors 

Along with lower costs for procedures, medical facilities outside of the U.S. often have equal or better recovery care, equipment and technology. The standards that international care is valued at are also becoming higher, and facilities are competing to keep up and meet the resulting demands. These standards are most often set by organizations such as the Global Healthcare Accreditation (GHA) and the Joint Commission International (JCI), which give valuable accreditations to hospitals and facilities that meet their standards of quality. 

Projected Growth 

In 2018, the global medical tourism market was valued at USD 39.6 billion. From 2019 to 2026, it’s expected to see a CAGR of 21.9%. This means that by 2026, the global medical tourism market is estimated to be valued at a staggering USD 179.6 billion. 

Popular Destinations 

Thailand dominated the medical tourism market in 2018, bringing in both the most revenue and the highest numbers of patients. Many choose Thailand for cosmetic procedures, but other procedures are more popular in different countries. The Asia-Pacific region overall does, however, dominate the medical tourism market. In 2018, the region brought in USD 4.8 billion from medical tourism. Along with Thailand, India, Singapore, and Malaysia are the most popular destinations for international healthcare in the region. It’s worth noting that the Latin American (LATAM) medical tourism market is expected to expand at 7.3% CAGR by 2025, so this region is not one to ignore for patients seeking healthcare across international borders. 

Insurance for Complications in Medical Tourism 

Wherever a patient chooses to go, even if it is a highly accredited hospital, there is a chance that unforeseen complications could arise after a procedure is performed. Our medical tourism insurance helps protect patients from the financial burden these complications would inevitably incur. 

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Popular Procedures For International Patients

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:

  • Cosmetic Surgery
  • Dentistry
  • Joint Replacement
  • Heart Surgery 
  • Elective Surgery
  • Fertility Treatment
  • Cancer Treatment 
  • 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.

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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.

Asia
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.

Get a medical tourism insurance quote today.