Medical tourism is when someone travels to another country for a dental or medical procedure.
There are many reasons someone may choose medical tourism over domestic care, including seeking treatments not approved in their country, or saving hundreds of dollars on a procedure.
Medical tourism is on the rise and millions have tried it. But what exactly are the benefits of traveling abroad for surgery or dental procedures?
These are some of the top benefits of treatment abroad:
6 Benefits of Medical Tourism
1. Lower Costs
In some places, medical treatment is anywhere from 25% to 90% less than the comparable procedure in Western countries like the United States.
For example, all-on-4 dental implants cost in Los Algodones, Mexico is up to 80% cheaper than the United States and is located just 3 hours from Phoenix or 4 hours from Los Angeles.
Several factors play into the lower cost, including:
- Expensive costs associated with diagnostic testing and medication in the United States
- Lower pre- and post-procedure labor costs overseas
- High cost of malpractice insurance in the United States
If insurance covers the procedure, it may not be worth the cost savings. However, someone with no insurance or poor coverage may feel a trip abroad is warranted.
2. Insurance Incentives
Insurance companies always see the value of saving a dollar or two. So, some have begun promoting medical tourism as a way to save for the insured and the insurer.
Some providers, like Aetna, have built programs promoting safe medical tourism. Some provide financial incentives for those willing to seek treatment abroad.
These companies are in the minority and most will not pay for surgery performed outside the United States unless it’s an emergency.
3. Privacy and Luxury
Foreign countries see the value in the money brought in by medical tourists. It helps local economies and health infrastructure, which has led to an increase in luxury options in foreign hospitals.
It allows patients to be pampered during their treatment, often at a fraction of the cost.
For example, hospital rooms can mirror hotel suites rather than a traditional cold hospital room. Others provide one-on-one private care with attentive and generous staff.
Medical tourism is easily combined with a ‘vacation’ abroad, so many can privately seek treatment without anyone back home knowing.
A trip abroad for treatment can still have some fun! Patients often travel for pleasure immediately before or after the scheduled procedure.
If an insurance provider is covering the travel, adding leisure travel and accommodations is an inexpensive add-on.
This vacation should be low-impact, especially if taken after the procedure. It’s essential not to disrupt recovery just for the vacation. After all, the main purpose of travel is for treatment!
5. Bypass Regulations
Another benefit of medical tourism is to circumvent rules and regulations set forth by the government, hospital, or insurance company.
We will say that this is not always the best idea, since those regulations are in place for a reason. Keep in mind that foreign countries may have different standards for surgery qualifications.
It is always best to talk to your domestic doctor first before opting for international care. That said, many overseas countries have very talented surgeons.
6. Talented Surgeons
Certain countries have a reputation for stellar specialty care, like plastic surgery in Brazil. United States coverage is often selective about cosmetic procedures, so international countries may be the best option.
Cosmetic surgery is often low cost or even free in Brazil’s public hospitals.
The Bottom Line
Always discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. Talk to your insurance provider to see if they are willing to work with you and balance financial savings and safety.
Be sure to have back-up plans in case there are complications or emergencies and ensure you can get yourself home in a crisis.