It is estimated that around two million Americans go abroad for medical procedures every year. Cost is usually the main driving factor but there are many cases where people go abroad to benefit from the specific expertise physicians in a country have. While medical tourism can be beneficial to a certain class of patients, it's important to note that there are many costs involved with it that you may not have considered. There are also some severe limitations to getting a procedure done abroad, and you won't know what it's truly like until you've gone through the process.
Let's take a look at a few things you should know before you go for medical tourism.
Recovering in Another Country Can Be Tough
Have you thought about how it would be for you to recover in completely foreign territory if it's your first time traveling to that country? Recovery is already difficult, so imagine if you're in a country whose culture you don't fully understand yet. This is why you must at least learn a thing or two about the country you're about to visit.
Learn about the culture, food, and people's general attitude towards tourists, especially those coming from the US. Also look at local hygiene customs, access to fresh water, and the temperature. This will prevent you from getting a culture shock at the worst possible time.
If the procedure is for a senior or someone with limited mobility, you might want to start looking at non-emergency medical transport services right away. You may also have to speak with the physician you’re going to see so you can get confirmation that the transport is needed to preserve your or the patient's health. This is because Medicare has specific rules regarding non-emergency medical transport, and they have to be followed to the letter if you want to make sure you’re covered. If you want to answer the question ‘does medicare cover non emergency medical transportation?’ and in which circumstances, we suggest you check out the Flying Angels website.
You should also speak with the physician and ask if you're going to have to come back for follow-ups. If you have tocome back a few weeks after the procedure, then you might want to consider staying at the destination. Compare the cost of going back and forth and consider the convenience factor. If it is a destination you wanted to go to in the first place, then you could turn it into a vacation and scratch the additional costs off.
With that being said, you shouldn’t be scared of medical tourism. Countries in Asia, Europe, and South America have developed procedures that are much better than some of the procedures we have in the country, and they have greater standards of care, so you may get much better service over there. It's up to you to do your research on the state of their healthcare system and make sure that the physician you go for is certified and well recognized there.
Medical tourism can be a great option if you want to cut your costs or get a procedure that’s not available over here. Do make sure that you look at the pros and cons of medical tourism first and speak to a few people who have had work done abroad.