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
- 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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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?
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.
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.
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.
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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
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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.
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Medical tourists are people who travel to a foreign country to receive medical procedures – usually for a far lesser cost than they would incur back home. There is a number of reasons why someone would travel all the way to another country to receive medical care. But what kind of patients most often benefit from medical tourism?
The Uninsured or Underinsured
Almost 1 in 5 Americans is uninsured. Many more are underinsured. These individuals will be expected to pay out of pocket for any medical care, and with the high cost of medical care and procedures in their home countries, uninsured or underinsured individuals may find themselves facing a tough choice: receive the care they need and incur great out of pocket costs or risk continuing as is but avoid falling into medical debt. By traveling to another country with a favorable exchange rate, even after travel costs, medical tourists can receive the surgeries and treatments they need at drastically reduced out of pocket costs.
Patients Looking for Elective Procedures
Elective procedures are simply ones that do not involve a medical emergency. Some of these procedures, such as a hip replacement, will likely be covered by health insurance if they are deemed medically necessary. Other types of elective procedures, such as cosmetic treatments, are generally not considered medically necessary and therefore most likely not covered under health insurance. Many people engage in medical tourism to undergo cosmetic procedures like plastic surgery or cosmetic dental work at reduced costs. In fact, 33% of medical tourists choose to travel for cosmetic work.
Retirees Looking to Improve Their Health and Enjoy a Vacation
In some cases, government healthcare programs may not cover expensive or experimental procedures. Retirees who find themselves in need of surgeries or treatment for health conditions would do well to consider medical tourism. In addition to receiving care at a more manageable cost, retired people can enjoy an exciting vacation. Many medical tourism destinations are also popular as traditional vacation sites. In addition, hospitals that cater to medical tourists often provide a top-notch luxury experience.
Patients Seeking Procedures Not Approved in Their Home Country
There are a number of treatments and procedures that have been shown to be safe and have excellent health benefits, yet they are not approved in a patient’s home country. However, these operations and treatments are quite common in some other countries. If a patient is interested in the benefits of alternate or experimental treatments, medical tourism is a great option. The quality of the treatments is fully matched by the quality of care, and patients can rest easy knowing they are in good hands with experienced doctors, even if they are thousands of miles away.
Although a patient can plan out their medical tourism trip down to the last detail, complications may arise and unforeseen costs may be charged. Medical tourism insurance is designed to protect patients undergoing a medical journey from the burden of these potential costs.
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