Medical Tourism: Benefits and Risks
Because medical tourism benefits an economy, more countries are putting their marketing budgets to work, drawing in patients from around the world, particularly Canada. With remarkably long wait times for treatment, high costs of uninsured treatments, and the lack of control over treatment, more and more Canadians are drawn to travelling abroad for medical care.
With any medical treatment, there are risks associated with procedures, but there are also incredible benefits, particularly when seeking surgical treatments for ongoing issues that are causing pain or decreased quality of life. Many Canadians, particularly those in British Columbia, feel it is better to take control of their medical care by looking outside their home country. Before making the decision to travel to a new destination for medical treatment, it is important to not only perform due diligence but, to speak to an expert about the advantages and disadvantages of travelling abroad for treatment.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Medical Tourism
In the same way that all medical procedures have a cost/benefit analysis, it is important to ensure that medical tourists fully understand both the pros and cons of seeking healthcare services outside of a home country.
Analyzing the Benefits of Medical Tourism:
- Lower Treatment Costs: Despite living in a country that offers universal health care, not all treatments are completely covered by insurance, and some are not covered at all. Depending on your level of insurance and the type of care/treatment that you are seeking, the cost of travel can end up being less than the cost of care at home.
- Insurance May Offer Partial Coverage: With options for medical tourism increasing, more and more insurance companies are offering partial coverage for medical costs, even when performed outside of Canada.
- Take Control: Even in developed countries, such as Canada, patients do not often retain much control over their medical procedures. Heavy delays can impact not only how long it takes to have a surgery or procedure done, but it can dictate which facility and which doctor are involved in treatment.
- Avoid Debt: Not unlike the advantage of lower costs, fewer expenses make it possible to save up for a treatment instead of going into debt to accommodate medical care.
- Avoid Long Wait Times: One of the main reasons for medical tourism are prolonged wait times. No one wants to be in pain and B.C. residents should not have to suffer for months or years until treatment is available. Inter-province or international travel allow tourists to participate in surgical care in a timely manner.
The Disadvantages of Medical Tourism:
- Due Diligence: Choosing the right practitioner is difficult, no mater where you are. The key to great results for any patient is to find the right surgeon, medical professional and facility. Without extensive knowledge, this can be difficult. While this may appear a disadvantage on its own, the issue can be resolved by working with a professional facilitator.
- Pre-Care and After-Care: Depending on how long you expect to stay abroad, a trip may mean sacrificing pre-op care and after care. That is not to say that these services will not be available on return home. There is also the threat of health hazards when travelling quickly after a surgery, such as blood clots associated with flying.
- Permits and Visas: One of the advantages of medical care at home, is the ability to travel throughout the country and be treated anywhere. Whenever a patient chooses to partake in medical travel overseas, there are visas and permits required. In light of a boom in medical tourism, many countries are creating specialized visas to make it easier for patients to travel.
Planning Your Destination Medical Care
One of the many advantages of medical tourism booming in recent years, is the amount of facilitators and services that offering arrangements, contacts and planning for medical care outside of the country. Working with a reputable agency ensures that you are getting the top quality of care, at an affordable rate. Researching physicians and medical facilities can mean hours and hours of time commitment, not always ending with great results. Trusting an expert for referrals and travel plans can help to relieve stress, make the most out of a budget and help to ensure that you are getting the best in results.