Weighing Benefits vs Risks of Medical Tourism

Medical tourism is simply the practice of combining vacation and medical procedures.
Some 4.3 million people in the U.S. do not have insurance, due to the high cost of insurance premiums. It is not uncommon for a person to pay $100-$200 a week for medical coverage. That is $5-10,000 a year, and many have already paid taxes on that money! A person working for a low wage cannot possibly afford this cost and are left uninsured. Medical tourism offers a viable alternative, for the high cost procedures that would be impossible to pay otherwise.

Some people are insured, but would prefer overseas treatment, for one reason or another. The answer to the question of insurance companies paying for services abroad is “maybe”. The trend of insurance companies is that they are beginning to see the benefit of outsourcing medical care to other countries.

With discounted airfares and full accommodations included in many foreign package quotes, a person can actually save money and still get top quality services when needed.

The preparation for traveling as a medical tourist is somewhat more extensive than preparing for treatment in your home country and will be require substantially more than the driver’s license you need in your local community! A wise patient will recognize that in any medical procedure, it is possible that the unexpected will occur and will prepare adequately.

A huge draw to medical tourism is that a person can enjoy a vacation setting, while saving enormous amounts of money at the same time. Where is it that you have always wanted to visit? There are several medical travel agencies available that offer a full menu of choices of destinations, and procedures offered in each! The destination is really a matter of deciding where it is that you have always longed to visit, and then combining that with your vacation, to create a “health holiday”. If a prospective medical tourist has always desired to see the Taj Mahal, then Arga, India would become the destination of choice. Thailand offers some of the most pristine beaches in the world. Brazil offers rainforests, Costa Rica offers jungles and beaches both, France offers beautiful countryside and the glitter of Paris, Italy offers romantic villas, and Switzerland (of course) offers the Swiss Alps! There are many more, unnamed that are options that a qualified medical travel agent can assist you with searching out.
We are living in the 21st Century, in a global medical community that has no borders.

International travel is readily available, with the skies filled with jet planes going to and fro. It is possible to travel anywhere in the world, with relative speed and comfort. The internet and electronic medical systems make it possible for medical documents to be sent anywhere in the world within minutes, and for teams of doctors in various countries to consult with each other if there are questions regarding the documents.

It is unfortunate that there are some facilities that are brand new and fully staffed, but are not adhering to sanitation guidelines. Phone and email conversations with former patrons of the facility will give you critical information concerning the cleanliness of the building and is well worth your time and effort. It will not be worth it for you to save tens of thousands of dollars to go to a state of the art facility with well trained doctors, if you end up with a staff infection, intestinal problems and other issues resulting from poor sanitation. Do thorough research on facilities prior to making a decision!

When trying to decide which are the best facilities, be sure to look beyond the nice building and paintings. You need to find out what equipment the facility has and how old it is. Because state of the art diagnostic equipment can be as costly as erecting a building, some are opting to purchase outdated and second hand equipment. Still others have equipment that looks good in the pictures, but is malfunctioning.

The IOS is an organization made up of members from countries all over the world, as is the JCI. Both organizations offer standards that have been drafted with the intent of providing a framework for operation and measurable outcomes. The JCI website is www.jointcommissioninternational.com and gives a complete listing of all international facilities that are accredited. Each listing gives the date of accreditation and the date of re-accreditation, if applicable.

There are benefits and risks to becoming a medical tourist, just as there are with any decision in life. The bottom line; however, is that there are no more risks for the medical tourist than there are for the patient who receives care in his homeland. The key is to research well, and be an informed consumer!

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