Popular Medical Tourism Destinations
When you think about popular tourist destinations the first things to come to mind are likely beautiful beaches, great food and historical buildings. Hospitals, on the other hand, don’t normally factor into vacation planning.
A medical centre wouldn’t normally qualify as a star attraction but if you are on the waiting list for a treatment or procedure, it is a great reason to pack a bag. If you are considering travelling for medical care or surgical procedures, one of the first questions you might find yourself asking is, “where do I go?”
For Canadians and other residents of developed countries, it is easy to assume that you will be able to get quick and accessible medical treatment at home but with prolonged patient wait times, restrictive insurance coverage and a lack of access to tests and general care, it is more difficult than ever. Instead of waiting around for the next available appointment, more and more Canadians are opting to travel in order to visit reputable medical facilities and reliable physicians.
If you are considering travelling for a medical procedure, it is important to make sure that you are heading to the right place. As a patient you can’t just show up in Costa Rica or the Middle East to ask for a cervical spine surgery. With so many healthcare systems in the world, it is important to narrow your search down to those countries that feature the specialized medical facilities and physicians that you need.
Top Health Tourism Destinations: Location By Category
Patients travel for medical care for a wide range of reasons, including decreased costs, recommendations for clinics or physicians, combining care with a vacation, or when seeking procedures what aren’t readily available in home countries. From one end of the world to another, there are countless campaigns aimed at attracting medical tourists from neighbouring countries, as well as those from across the globe.
One of the contributing factors in choosing a travel destination for your medical treatment, is the type of care that you need. Some of the main reasons for travel tourism include:
Plastic Surgery/Cosmetic Treatments: Aesthetic procedures are an increasingly popular reason to travel. The more common treatments include breast augmentation, liposuction, and rhinoplasty. These treatments aren’t covered by insurance providers so it is common to travel to a more cost-effective destination.
Cancer Treatments: Patients seeking cancer treatments are likely to travel in order to get second opinions from prominent specialists or seek out alternative treatments that may be not be available at home.
Dental Procedures: In the case of uninsured patients, something as common as a root canal can result in thousands of dollars in bills. Instead of putting off treatments due to a lack of funds, Canadians are travelling to seek out necessary procedures, as well as elective ones.
Fertility Treatments: For anyone looking to explore their fertility options travelling is a great way to access necessary care discreetly, as well as avoiding high costs, long waiting lists or restrictive regulations revolving around retrieval, storage or surrogacy.
Rehab Tourism: It is common for patients seeking rehabilitation for substance abuse to separate themselves from familiar surroundings in order to focus completely on their recovery.
Basic Scans & Testing: With overcrowded and understaffed medical facilities, wait times for basic tests are longer than ever in Canada. Depending on what province you live in, you may be up against a six-month backlog just to get a CT scan. This extended wait period is sending patients to other provinces, as well as other countries.
Top Spots For Medial Procedures: Choosing Where to Seek Care
As the medical tourism industry grows so do the number of potential patients seeking out guidelines on where to go and how to travel. The best tool that potential patients have for this is the medical tourism index. This weighs availability, cost, travel options and other key factors.
For Canadians, the best places to travel for medical procedures are other provinces, as well as the United States and their territories. The main reasons for this is that there is a similar mix of spoken languages, as well as cultural similarities that make communication and navigation simple and easy.
Across Canada: If you are looking for familiar surroundings and top medical facilities and physicians, you might not have to go far from home. In BC, for example, wait times for simple procedures can range from weeks to months while these same tests are readily available in Manitoba or Ontario.
United States: As a Canadian, travelling to the United States is simple, quick and culturally familiar. There isn’t a language barrier to contend with for English speakers and there are thousands of medical clinics and physicians in the private sector, making care widely accessible. Many insurance providers will also extend coverage to the US.
The choice of location is largely chosen based on a combination of specialities of medical professionals and goals or conditions of patients. If your goal is to seek out medical treatments at a lower cost, it is important to consider the strength of the Canadian Dollar. Considering high cost countries including the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany or anywhere with a stronger currency than CAD wouldn’t be effective.
Certain countries are known for medical specialties. If you are in the market for a particular procedure you might choose your destination based on that. Countries like South Korea are known for advanced medical technology and may offer newly introduced procedures that are not yet available in Canada. Hungary is an increasingly popular spot for dental surgery and procedures, while for decades, Brazil has held high standing for cosmetic surgeries.
Before you commit to a medical tourism destination, consult with an agency to ensure that you are making the right choice. Experienced firms like Venture Surgical can help to detail the needs of a patient based on type of procedure, recovery time, available facilities and budget.