In this day and age when overseas travel is a lot cheaper and more convenient compared to a decade ago, and technological advancements have helped improve the quality of global healthcare, medical tourism has become more of a necessity because of its practicality than a luxury only those with the financial means can afford.
It’s no surprise then, that every year, more and more people leave their cities and comfort zones to seek medical treatment elsewhere. Obviously, this is a boon to the healthcare and travel industries, but if you take a deeper look at the overall picture, medical tourism is advantageous to the public in general.
So what are the advantages of medical tourism?
The relatively low cost of medical procedures in countries not named USA and Great Britain is the main reason why people go overseas for medical treatments. But it’s a double-edged sword: The low rates of medical procedures abroad make people think that medical tourism might be a scam. But look at it this way: if your latest iPhone and LeBron shoes are assembled and manufactured in China, it’s because labor cost is a lot lower there than in the US. In the same manner, medical treatments abroad are cheaper because of the low cost of labor in developing countries.
For perspective, hip replacement surgery in the US costs upwards of $20,000. In Singapore, it’s only $15,000; in Thailand, it’s $10,000, while in India, it’s just a little more than $6,000. With that kind of savings, you can even take your family with you and bask in one of the beaches in Phuket. But that’s after you’ve thoroughly recuperated, of course.
Another misconception about getting medical treatment abroad is that insurance companies do not honor them. Wrong. In truth, most insurance companies are not just willing to pay for your medical expenses abroad, they’re more than happy to help you without paying local medical rates. Besides, many hospitals have solid partnerships with insurance companies and trumpet them as their competitive advantage.
But beyond the lower rates, foreign hospitals are far more willing to quote you of their rates than hospitals here or in the UK, and that’s one thing I don’t understand.
It is natural that we equate price with quality. After all, we get what we pay for, right? Wrong. Like I said, the advances in medical research and technology have leveled the playing field in the healthcare industry.
So much that what quality doctors can do in the US, the same doctors can do half a world away. See, many of the healthcare professionals and surgeons that offer medical services undergo the same kind of education and training as their western counterparts, if not in their home countries, probably even in medical schools and hospitals in the United States and Great Britain.
Aside from the expertise, many people patients appreciate the exemplary service found in foreign hospitals. After all, Asians pride themselves as hospitable and warm people. Just ask the Filipinos. In the medical tourism hubs like Singapore, Thailand, India, and Hong Kong, there are more than enough well-trained registered nurses to take care of you, as compared to the orderlies are sometimes given the responsibility of caring for patients in the US.
It should also be noted that, whereas US doctors are often too busy with too many commitments and appointments, doctors in major tourist hospitals have much lighter workloads, and consequently, have more time to give their patients one-on-one attention.
As a medical tourist from abroad, you are assured of the utmost care because the reputation of the institution rests on how you are treated.
Availability of Service
Another advantage of medical tourism is the immediate access to healthcare services. In the US or UK, patients sometimes have to wait for months on end to get the kind of treatment they want. Anyone who wants to undergo a procedure or therapy not approved by the healthcare regulating authority in the home country is doomed to wait in agony. In medical tourism institutions abroad, the patient is the priority and he gets it as soon as possible.
Case in point: According to an article in www.health-tourism.com, the FDA did not approve stem cell and hip resurfacing apart from advanced technologies for certain vascular diseases, cancer, kidney diseases for a long time in US. While some stem cell treatments have received regulatory approval elsewhere, others have not been demonstrated as safe and effective in clinical trials, let alone been approved for human use by any major Western regulator.
Those who cannot avail of these medical procedures are lucky they can get it elsewhere.
In many countries, alternative therapies and medicine are not regulated or even allowed. Examples are ayurvedic treatments, acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, herbal medicine, and others. In other developing countries, many of these treatments are available and are sometimes preferred by many because of the absence of side effects.
Yes, the word “medical” has top billing in “medical tourism”, but take the second word out and you don’t get much else in the way of enjoying a rather agonizing experience. In fact, medical tourism is just as much about travelling than about getting medical treatment. It is not uncommon that most patients actually look forward to a surgery because of the promise of travelling and enjoying themselves in another country. Just ask medical tourists, particularly those seeking cosmetic surgery or wellness treatments.
I mean, if you’re about to go under a knife, what better way to recuperate than in a serene beach house somewhere in the tropical pacific? Imagine the fresh fruit juice and gentle massages you will get after the daily therapy. Even just the thought is therapeutic!
What you get after treatment is a better physical body, a more relaxed mind, and an unforgettable overall experience.
Medical tourism has actually a lot more direct and indirect benefits and they all depend on the circumstances of your travel. Of course, the far less serious your condition is, the more you will have a better time being treated in a foreign land. Of course, there are always some negative things to consider, but generally, the benefits – affordability, quality of healthcare, availability of services, and the opportunity to travel — far outweigh any of the disadvantages.
Have you ever gone to some place for medical tourism? Share with us your experience!
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