Why Medical Tourism Could Be a Good Idea
This is a guest post written by Anum Yoon, owner of CurrentOnCurrency.com, a personal finance blog for college students and 20-somethings.
Travel is probably the last thing on the minds of people who need medical procedures. Indeed, traveling while injured or ill can be dangerous. However, when a person is suffering from a non-life-threatening condition, he or she may follow the lead of a growing number of individuals who have chosen to go to places like India, Thailand and Latin America to pursue what’s known as medical tourism.
One of the main reasons behind this trend is the growing cost of healthcare in Western nations. People are often nervous about traveling away from home for procedures and wonder what the standard of care will be.
However, many are often surprised that the treatment they receive while abroad is not only as good as they would receive in a facility within the United States, but in some cases, even better.
I first looked into medical tourism when I had to remove my wisdom tooth last year. I was a whimpering mess for a few weeks because of the excruciating pain in my gums. I didn’t have insurance at the time, so I was putting off visiting the dentist by sticking to home remedies. Needless to say, they didn’t work so I had to drag myself to the dentist. The examination alone cost me over $300, and I was informed that the wisdom tooth had an abscessed nerve. When I inquired about the price, they told me that with the x-ray and root canal procedure, it would cost me at least another $2000 – not including the cost of medication.
Keep reading to discover the reasons why I chose to get my dental work done abroad, and why you may want to consider medical tourism before getting a procedure done at home too.
Significantly Lower Cost
Unfortunately, the high cost of healthcare in the United States can greatly discourage people from getting procedures done, especially if the conditions they suffer from are not urgent. However, as suggested above, many people choose medical tourism because the cost of procedures is generally much less than getting them done at home.
People can expect the total cost to range from one-quarter to one-tenth less than procedures performed in the United States. India is generally cheapest for things like dental-related treatments, followed by Thailand.
Willingness to Provide Upfront Prices
In the United States, people can often be unpleasantly surprised by the cost of their medical treatments, even if they have health insurance. In contrast, facilities that cater to people availing of medical tourism tend to be much more likely to offer upfront costs to patients.
In many cases, that makes it easier for people to budget for their medical care, and maybe even have money left over to spend part of the time abroad taking a vacation, rather than just solely traveling for purposes of a medical treatment.
Higher Likelihood of Personalized Service
Everyone has heard disheartening stories of less-than-optimal healthcare services in the United States. Many people complain about only seeing doctors very briefly and being attended to by orderlies or physician’s assistants for the rest of the time.
That scenario is much less likely to occur when going for medical tourism appointments. In non-Western nations, there is often more of a focus on physicians providing personalized care to their patients, rather than being dismissive and hurried. That usually means people get great aftercare instructions, and receive thorough answers to their questions prior to procedures, too.
Easier to Find Facilities Abroad
In past decades, people were not only in the minority when they decided to receive treatments abroad, but they were also largely on their own when trying to communicate with a possible medical facility. Sometimes that meant having to cope with language barriers and time zone differences.
Now, however, there are numerous companies that specifically assist people with medical tourism needs. Some of those services provide search engines, allowing individuals to look for different treatment providers by country. Others even help iron out the details, so all a person has to do is pack a suitcase and board a plane.
Medical tourism may not be something you have considered at length, but it’s definitely worth looking into, considering the various benefits. That’s especially true if you find yourself feeling disillusioned by the increasing number of challenges that are often associated with getting procedures done in the United States.
In case you’re wondering how I ended up settling my wisdom tooth issue, I ended up paying $600 for my flight and hotel in Mexico for 5 nights. The dental examination was free and the root canal cost me under $100. And once the pain medication kicked in, I was able to enjoy my recovery on a warm, sunny beach. I spent around $1000 for the entire trip and I was immensely satisfied.
Although your experience may vary, the above examples are just some of many reasons why people are looking to medical tourism when they need procedures to get or stay healthy.