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. 

Medical Tourism Risks

Any medical procedure, no matter where it is performed, can come with risks for the patient. However, it is undeniable that having medical work done in a foreign country comes with its own distinct set of risks. What are the risks of medical tourism, and how can international patients protect themselves against them? 

Communication Struggles 

While many of the highly accredited hospitals and medical facilities have English-speaking staff, that does not mean every facility does. It does not even mean that the “English-speaking” caregivers are fluent. Your hospital could be the best around, but if they cannot fully understand some of the nuances of your conversation, vital information may be missed – on both sides. This is especially scary if complications with your procedure arise. 

Safety & Ethics 

In the US, healthcare is a highly regulated practice. Because the government keeps a close eye on hospitals and medical facilities, you know what you’re getting when you go to receive treatment. However, not all foreign countries have the same regulations as the US. If you choose to undergo medical tourism, make sure you research the regulations of the country you will visit and see if they have any credentials for regulating facilities. The Joint Commission International is a great place to start when searching for safe care facilities abroad. 

As far as ethics go, there is the matter of experimental practices. Some practices that are not approved in the US, such as using stem cells, are commonly performed in other countries. As a medical tourist, you may be seeking experimental procedures or treatments, but you also may be totally against them. Before you go, make sure you thoroughly research what kinds of practices and procedures your foreign medical provider will use. 

Complications 

Traveling to receive medical care in another country certainly increases the risk of medical complications. First, the chance of infections increases, especially if you are at a facility that is poorly regulated. Bacterial and viral infections, as well as diseases like HIV and hepatitis, can be spread due to unsanitary medical practices. Another thing that can cause complications is traveling soon after a surgery or procedure. If you engage in medical tourism, it is best to remain in the country for a while as you recover. Many facilities have excellent recovery units and amenities – you just have to make sure you’re visiting the right place. 

Our medical tourism insurance is designed to provide coverage in the event of medical complications incurred in a foreign country. There are risks to medical tourism, but also wonderful benefits. Don’t go in unprotected. 

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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.

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Does Travel Insurance Cover Elective Medical Procedures?

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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