A lot of people are attracted to cheap surgery abroad either because they lack insurance or because there’s a long waiting list in their own country.
Surgery abroad, or medical tourism, is becoming increasingly popular. And it’s no longer limited to cheap dental surgery in Mexico or inexpensive cosmetic surgery in Costa Rica.
People are traveling halfway around the world for all sorts of procedures which include orthopedic surgeries, fertility treatments, and even critical operations like organ transplants, cancer treatment and cardiac surgeries.
But is surgery abroad for everyone?
It’s clearly not an option if you’re being rushed to hospital in an ambulance at the time you need the surgery. However, there are many occasions when you can benefit from obtaining treatment overseas for non-emergency conditions.
Clearly, though, you should at least be fit enough to travel to your destination – and this may be a trip of 12 to 15 hours or more, depending on your destination.
Here are some circumstances where you can benefit from medical tourism:
1. You do not have insurance.
Unsurprisingly, a large number of medical travelers fall into this category. Not having health insurance can mean prohibitive prices for hospitalization and surgery.
It’s no secret that in the US, uninsured or self-pay patients are charged two to three times more for hospital care than those covered by health insurance. As reprehensible as this may be, the patient is the one who has to take the blow.
According to one Harvard study, half of personal bankruptcies in the United States are related to medical expenses. Filing for bankruptcy is not a solution. Flying for medical tourism can be. Medical tourism can save you 50% to 90% of the typical price your US hospital charges.
2. You have limited insurance.
Limited insurance could mean high deductibles, high co-payments or high out-of-pocket expenses. Or it may mean that the medical care you need is not covered under your catastrophic insurance plan.
In many ways, being underinsured is no better than being uninsured – possibly worse, because you’re still paying your monthly insurance premium for either very little or nothing in return.
3. The treatment you are seeking is elective.
Most health insurance plans out there do not cover elective surgeries.
So even if you have insurance coverage, and you know the procedure you need is not elective, it’s very easy for your insurer to successfully claim otherwise in order to avoid a payout if you undergo the treatment anyway.
This is especially true in the case of many cosmetic and dental procedures.
4. The treatment you are seeking is not available in your country.
For example, until fairly recently, Birmingham Hip Resurfacing surgery (BHR) was not available in the United States – because it was not approved by the FDA.
So many patients from the US went to India for this procedure. Many patients still prefer to do this because the surgeons in India are more experienced in this procedure than surgeons in the US, and the cost is a lot cheaper.
5. There is a long wait for the treatment you are seeking.
This can lead to deterioration in your condition and your quality of life. According to Jill Misangyi, a Canadian who went to India for spinal decompression surgery to treat her 16-year old back pain, under the medicare system in Canada, waiting lists just to see specialists range from 6 months to a couple of years.
Then you often have to wait another couple of years for the surgery.
Medical tourism can be the answer to the problems of patients like Jill, who have spent a lifetime awaiting their turn, and still have no end in sight.
If you decide that Medical Tourism may be the answer for you, be sure to do your research carefully.
As with everything: careful research and detailed planning will make your experience a lot happier and a lot more successful!