What is Medical Tourism
Travel information, news and resources regarding the world of medical tourism, with special focus on its relationship to travel insurance :
Medical tourism is the name given to the process of people seeking planned or elective medical treatments in a country outside of their own.
The process will not normally be covered by a standard travel insurance policy and is unlikely to be covered under someone’s health insurance policy unless specifically and directly arranged by the person’s insurance company, where some cover may be provided in very limited circumstances.
It is for the individual to plan the process and execute the whole procedure with all the risks and caveats that entails.
Types of Medical Tourism
Medical tourism can apply to a wide range of different procedures and can happen for many different reasons.
The main types of procedures can either be cosmetic or surgical or medical or a combination of all three. The most common procedures include dental care, cosmetic surgery, orthopaedic surgery, fertility treatments, cancer care etc.
Reasons for medical tourism
The chief reasons for someone seeking medical treatment overseas normally relate either to the cost of the treatment in their own country compared to another country, or the delay in waiting to get treatment in their own country as opposed to overseas.
For a lot of people in the USA, the main reason is often financial, whilst in other countries such as the UK people often see treatment abroad either because of the long waiting list for certain procedures, or the lack of provision of certain cosmetic treatments on the NHS.
Risks of Medical Tourism
There are many obvious risks associated with someone seeking medical treatment outside of their own country, but mostly these risks can be managed and minimized if proper time and planning are put into the research needed to make this happen safely.
The main risks/research areas include :
- Checking the clinical capabilities of the hospital or clinic providing the procedure
- Checking the qualifications and credentials of the clinical staff involved in the surgery or medical treatment.
- The level of risk of infectious diseases within the country where the procedure is taking place
- The general quality of care if it’s likely to be available to the individual both pre and post-op.
- The individual’s ability to communicate with doctors and nurses possibly in a different language.
- Whether or not proper aftercare can be provided in the country where the procedure is taking place, and if so for how long.
- How aftercare can be provided in the individual’s own country of residence
- The risks of air travel back to the country of residence after the procedure
- How any complications can be managed and dealt with if needed once the person has returned home.
Whilst this may seem a long list of potential problems, these concerns are based on many people’s experiences of seeking medical treatment overseas.
Medical tourism is, generally speaking, not something that should be undertaken lightly and should only be done with the utmost care and consideration.
Government is provide a lot of valuable sources of information, below are links to the CDC and the UK government’s advice on medical tourism.
Also are several articles that highlight the risks and benefits of medical tourism which can act as a useful guide for anyone considering going down this route.
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