Medical Tourism FAQ
Why Are Procedures in Medical Tourism Destinations Cheaper Than They Are Back Home?
There are a number of reasons (some hotly debated) why procedures in medical tourism destinations are often cheaper than what you would find in your home country.Lower labor costs help explain why medical tourism procedures are cheaper.Hourly wages in countries like India, Thailand, and Argentina are usually lower than they are in countries like the United States, England, or Japan.Whats more, medical tourism destinations dont always have organized labor unions that control the salary requirements of health care professions.Malpractice insurance usually isnt as high as it is in the US.This is not to say that the safety and quality of medical treatments are inferior.Its just that you wont necessarily receive large balloon payments if you sue a hospital and win.Healthcare simply does not have to be that expensive.Medical tourism countries are not necessarily more affordable. Its just that many developed countries make healthcare unreasonably expensive.Perhaps a better question is, why is the cost of healthcare in my country so high?
Why Is Medical Tourism So Cost Effective?
What Makes Medical Tourism So Affordable?
Besides Cost, Are There Other Advantages of Medical Tourism?
Cost is obviously the most conspicuous advantage of medical tourism, but its not the only one.
Wait times are typically much shorter than what you all find back home.This is especially true if you come from a country with socialized medicine.The average wait time at Thailands Bumrungrad Hospital, for example, is less than 20 minutes. And thats to see a specialist.
The quality of service is sometimes superior to what you had find back home.With lower labor costs, medical tourism facilities can often hire more support staff than a comparable facility in the West can.Nurse-to-patient ratios are often higher, and many medical tourism patients admit that their experiences are more like hotel stays than typical hospital visits.With medical tourism, you sometimes have access to procedures that are not available in your home country.The very act of going abroad is often reward enough for many travelers.They fly to Buenos Aires or Phuket for dental surgery, but they spend the remainder of their time shopping, sightseeing, and trying out new experiences.
What if I Need a Prescription Filled While Overseas?
What Do I Need to Bring with Me While Traveling abroad for Medical Treatment?
Am I a Good Candidate for Medical Tourism?
Going abroad is a very personal choice that obviously varies from individual to individual.Some people do not like airplanes, travel, exotic foods, new experiences, and anything else that removes them from their comfort zone.The same can be said about medicine.Receiving treatment is a very personal choice that varies from individual to individual.Some people do not like doctors, hospitals, dentists, and anything else related to health care.So it is very difficult for us (or anyone) to say that you are an ideal candidate for medical tourism.However, if you meet some of the following criteria, medical tourism might actually be a good option for you:
You require expensive medical treatment, but you lack basic insurance.
You require expensive medical treatment, but your insurance is not sufficient.
You require medical treatment, but your country does not offer the necessary procedure.
You require medical treatment, but theres a long waiting list in your country.
You require medical treatment, but the quality of healthcare in your country is not sufficient.
You can afford basic treatment, but the recovery and recuperation costs in your home country are out of your budget.
You plan to travel abroad anyway, and you have a few procedures that you had like to cross off your list.
You simply want to travel, explore, and see what all the medical tourism hype is about.
Am I a Good Candidate for Dental Tourism?
What Are the Dangers of Medical Tourism?
There are several very serious concerns you need to research before going on a medical tourism trip.Vacations abroad (medical or not) bring certain risks like food poisoning, injury, culture shock, and countless other potential threats. But with medical tourism, theres also the added pressure of putting your health and life in the hands of a potential stranger. Its important to understand that there are inherent dangers in any medical treatment, no matter where you receive it.It is estimated that close to 100,000 people die every year in American hospitals due to preventable medical errors.So no matter where you decide to receive your treatment, understand that you always face certain risks.
Is Medical Tourism Something I Can Do Alone?Should I Take a Companion?
Although there is much to be said about traveling on your own, we have found that medical tourism is most enjoyable (and successful) when you have a travel companion.This is especially true if you are about to undergo extensive surgery or treatment.Having a trusted friend or family member handle the paperwork, liaison between you and hospital staff, and keep you company will help remove some of the potential stress inherent both in travel and healthcare.Obviously, adding a second person to the trip increases the cost considerably.We feel that the extra expense is worth it, but ultimately, the decision is yours.If you are an adventurous, independent traveler who would rather spend the extra money on more sightseeing rather than on a second airline ticket, then going on a medical vacation by yourself might be OK.
Is This Medical Tourism Destination Really Safe to Travel to?
We receive these types of questions all the time.People write in asking, I have heard that healthcare and hygiene standards in country X are abysmal.Are you sure that this is a good place to receive an operation? Or I have heard that there is so much crime in country Y. Is it safe to take my kids?Or I have heard of recent terrorist attacks in country Z.Should I be worried? Theres always an inherent risk whenever you travel abroad.Changing political climates, natural disasters, and crime are always potential dangers of which every traveler must be aware.Language barriers, cultural differences, unfamiliar laws, and exotic foods can also make traveling quite intense. Doing plenty of research before going abroad, however, can help ease the transition and make your medical tourism vacation safer and more enjoyable.Begin by researching the country on the Internet. Online resources are usually free, and theres a ton of content from travel agents, tour guides, expatriates, and former tourists. If you find that a country is a potential candidate, you should invest in some guidebooks like Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, Fodors, Lets Go, or Frommers.The resources are updated quite regularly and typically contain a wealth of useful information.
Are There Any Travel Advisories for This Country?
What Does the U.S. State Department Say about This Country?
What Are The Visa Laws For Country X?
In each countrys section on this Web site, we devote some time to the various visa regulations and passport issues you need to know before getting on the plane.For a complete list of embassies and consulates (which will provide visa information by country).Will I Be Able to Travel and Sightsee after My Procedure? It really depends on the activities planned and the procedure received.You should consult with your physicians or dentists (both at home and abroad) before making any travel or sightseeing plans.Thats because some medical tourism procedures require longer recovery times than others.Few doctors would recommend scuba diving in the days following intensive back surgery.Our best advice is to ask your doctors or dentists what the standard recovery period is for a successful operation.Make the necessary travel and tourism arrangements based on whatever information you receive.However, keep in mind that all vacations (medical or otherwise) require a certain degree of flexibility.If you can secure open-ended plane tickets, flexible hotel reservations, and other refundable commitments, that would be ideal.What Do I Need to Bring While Traveling abroad for a Medical Procedure?Everyones packing list is going to be slightly different.But below are a few things that you should absolutely take in order to avoid medical or legal complications down the road:
Passport and copies
Visa papers and copies
Prescription medication in original pharmacy packaging
Medical equipment (asthma inhalers, medical batteries, etc.)
Doctors note explaining the need for any medication you have
Complete set of medical records
When it comes to apparel, we recommend checking Weather.com to get a feel for what type of clothing and sun protection youll need to take.Other items like toiletries, diarrhea medicine, books, and computers are ultimately up to the individual traveler.Depending on where you decide to take your medical vacation, many everyday items will be relatively easy to procure.Bangkok, for example, sells almost all the essentials that you would expect to find back home.
What Will the Weather Be Like When I Arrive?
Weather.com provides fairly up to date forecasts for most of the major destinations around the world.Meteorology is a science, but most would agree that it is not an exact science.So make sure you pack sufficient clothes for a wide range of weather conditions. Your guidebook should also indicate when the rainy, hot, cold, and dry seasons are.If you are going to India during the monsoon season, you probably should no take your favorite suede shoes.And if you are going to Argentina during their winter months (which are different from the northern hemisphere, tank tops and flip flops are probably not the best idea.
Will I Be Able to Find Western-style Food?
One of the joys of traveling abroad is sampling new and exotic flavors.But its not uncommon for tourists to want familiar meals every now and then.Fortunately, many of the more popular medical tourism destinations around the world cater to the diverse needs of their guests.If you travel to cities like Buenos Aires, Bangkok, Manila, or Mumbai, you should not have much difficulty finding international cuisine from all over the world.Sushi bars, hamburgers, baguettes, fish & chips are usually quite easy to find.In the various destination-specific dining sections of this site, we have tried to include a broad range of restaurants and eateries.If you ever come across a new restaurant that you think is worth including, please let us know.
Although finding familiar food should not be a major problem in major urban centers, you might have some difficulty once you stray from the beaten path.f you are looking for fine Italian cuisine, greasy fries, or pepperoni pizza, you might be out of luck once you leave the bigger cities.If you are a relatively non-adventurous eater, we recommend going through some basic training before your trip.Familiarize yourself with the local cuisine by visiting themed restaurants in your home town.Maybe its finally time to check out that Indian restaurant on the corner.If you go enough times, you are bound to find something on the menu that you actually enjoy.And when you do finally go abroad, the food wont seem nearly as unfamiliar.
I Have Strict Dietary Requirements.Will Finding Food Be Difficult?
Because most medical tourism destinations are in major urban centers around the world, you should have access to a fairly wide range of restaurants and culinary styles.There are eating establishments that cater to vegans, vegetarians, kosher cuisine, low cholesterol diets, dairy free diets, Western palettes, Asian palettes, and everything in between.Once you travel outside of these major urban centers, however, be prepared for occasional difficulties.This is not to say that food wont be diverse or delicious, but if you are someone who absolutely cannot eat wheat, for example, you all need to make special arrangements ahead of time.If you are with a tour group, let the organizers know.If you are on your own, take some food with you.It also helps to learn a few key phrases in whatever language applies.Knowing how to say, i am a vegetarian who does not eat meat, eggs, or milk, in Thai is very useful (in Thailand).
Will I Be Able to Find Vegetarian Cuisine Abroad?
Will I Be Able to Find Low Cholesterol Food Abroad?
Will I Be Able to Find Dairy Free Food Abroad?
Will I Be Able to Find Kosher Cuisine Abroad?
Is the Food Safe to Eat?
In each destination-specific section of our Web site, we discuss the relative safety of the local cuisine.While food is obviously safe to eat for those who have lived there for a long time, your body needs time to build up an immunity to new strains of bacteria (note: bacteria are present in all food, no matter where you are).There's no way to guarantee that all food in all places is safe, but there are some simple steps you can take to decrease the overall likelihood of getting sick:
Only eat food that has been cooked over high heat in the last 20 to 30 minutes.
Be wary of fruits and vegetables that haven't been washed properly.
Only drink bottled beverages that had been properly sealed.
If no bottled beverages are available, stick with hot coffee, hot tea, boiled water, and alcohol.
Avoid ice cubes unless you know that they were made from treated water.
Carry diarrhea medicine with you at all times.
Carry toilet paper with you at all times.
Consult other travelers about their own experiences.
Consult your guidebook to see what recommendations they have about local cuisine.
Stick to venues that cater to tourists.You can get sick anywhere, but restaurants that depend on tourist traffic have extra incentive to maintain a healthy and clean image.
Is the Water Safe to Drink?
This answer varies from country to country, but in most medical tourism destinations around the world, it is wise to stick with bottled water that has been properly sealed.With regards to cooking and brushing your teeth, its best to consult your travel book for details. In most cases, boiling water during food preparation will get rid of harmful bacteria, but there are also non-organic toxins that you need to be careful of.If you have the time, money, and patience to use bottled water for all of your cooking and dental needs, its best to remain overly cautious.
what Vaccinations and Immunizations Are Necessary for Each Country?
Vaccinations vary considerably from region to region, so it is difficult to list all of them at any given time.Whats more, new strains of flu and disease crop up around the world on a fairly regular basis.The Center for Disease Control & Prevention and the World Health Organization provide two of the most comprehensive vaccination lists available. In our destination-specific sections, we frequently update the vaccine requirements for each individual country, but we recommend using the two abovementioned Web sites in addition.Its also important to remember that many vaccinations take several days to several weeks to begin working effectively.We recommend researching the requisite vaccinations well ahead of time.Consult with your physician if you have specific questions about incubation periods, availability, and your personal medical history.
How Will I Communicate with My Doctor, Friends, and Family Back Home?
Most medical tourism destinations provide easy access to cyber cafes, mobile technology, and postal services.Broadband technology is truly a global phenomenon, and unless you are on a weeklong adventure trek through the mountains of Chiang Mai, you should not be too far away from a serviceable computer.And thanks to affordable voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technologies like Skype, Gizmo, and Jajah, you can call your physicians, dentists, friends, and loved ones for next to nothing. SIM card-based cell phones are also quite popular in most parts of the world. As a matter of fact, the United States is one the last regions of the world where this seemingly universal technology has not taken root.If you currently have a cell phone that accepts SIM cards, you should be able to purchase a local number during the duration of your stay in whatever medical tourism destination you visit.You alll probably end up paying a slightly higher rate than the locals do since you wont be on a plan, but its nice to have instant connectivity everywhere you go.The days of traditional calling cards and public phones are slowly fading.
Do they Have Internet in This Country?
Goa has Internet infrastructure in place.Throughout Goa you will find Internet Cafes at affordable prices to use.Even most of the resorts you stay in have a Internet facility inhouse.
Is There Terrorism in this Country?
Unfortunately, there are not many countries around the world that are truly terrorism free.The United States, United Kingdom, and Japan are three of the most industrialized and affluent nations in the world, and they havent managed to eradicate terrorism within their borders.So perhaps a more appropriate question would be:
Given that terrorism does exist, what steps can I take to protect myself?
Sadly, this too is a question that is very difficult to answer.Some terrorists champion legitimate causes.Other terrorists adhere to no particular belief system at all.But almost all terrorists practice indiscriminate killing, and for this, little protection is available no matter where you are.Short of avoiding tourist venues, staying away from public transportation, and never leaving your hotel room, theres very little you can do to make yourself 100% safe at all times.
However, you can take certain steps to help ensure that you and your loved ones remain connected in the event that something goes wrong:
If you plan to be abroad for any length of time, its never a bad idea to check in with your embassy to make sure that they are aware of your presence.
Carry identification with you at all times.
Make sure you have memorized any and all the phone numbers you need.In todays speed dial culture, you had be surprised how many people do not even know their home phone number.
Set up contingency plans with your travel companion(s), friends, family:
If something happens, where will you meet?
Who will you call?
How often will you check in?
Do you and your companion have copies of each others passports and visa paperwork?
Do you and your companion have extra dosages of each others medication plus instructions?
Are Europeans Ever Targeted in this Country?
Whether or not you will be targeted when you travel abroad is very difficult to say, regardless of your nationality.Tourists are potential targets almost everywhere they travel due to their unfamiliarity with the surroundings.it can be said that Europeans are unusually susceptible to potential attacks for a variety of reasons:
They are perceived to be wealthy.
They are perceived to be gullible.
They rarely have facility with foreign languages.
Their governments foreign policy is notoriously unpopular in many parts of the world.
Each persons travel experience will be different, but the overwhelming majority of people who travel abroad enjoy their time, come back safely, and have only positive experiences to share with others.If this were not true, tourism (medical or otherwise) would cease altogether, and no government wants that to happen.
We invite you to review our Travel Safety section to learn more about what steps you can take to protect yourself, regardless of your nationality.its also useful to review travel advisories for whatever medical tourism destination you plan to visit. Your governments department of state (or equivalent agency) will provide the most useful information for you as a citizen. We also invite you to check out our section on Travel Advisories.
Will I Be Able to Practice My Religion in This Medical Tourism Destination?
Most of the major medical tourism destinations around the world practice varying degrees of tolerance and acceptance.India and Thailand, for example, have incredibly strong religious roots (Hinduism, Buddhism, & Islam for India # Buddhism & Islam for Thailand), but both countries are extremely welcoming of alternative belief systems.The same can be said of the Philippines where Catholicism is the dominant religion, but mosques and Jewish temples can be found throughout the region.With regards to locating places of worship while abroad, you should probably consult your spiritual adviser well in advance.He or she should be able to connect you with sister churches, temples, mosques, shrines, meditation centers, retreats, and worship sites in medical tourism destinations abroad.
Will They Speak My Language?
Although many regard English as the international language, you should not necessarily expect every person you meet to speak English.In fact, 75% to 80% of the world does not speak English, so be prepared for occasional miscommunications and moments of frustration.It is not a Thai persons job to learn English for the sole purpose of communicating with you.Argentineans have managed quite well with Spanish for some time.And Chinese is one of the oldest continuous languages in the world, so do not expect all of them to switch over for your convenience. Medical tourism facilities (hospitals, dental offices, chain hotels, and businesses that cater to tourists), on the other hand, will speak English for the most part.Because many tourists from around the world speak English as a second language, you all find it fairly popular in the main tourism venues.Even still, patience is important since not everyone will be a native speaker.For important matters (i.e. medical treatments) hospital staff members will be fluent enough, and if they are not, they all usually have translators present.
Will I Need to Learn the Language?
While it is not actually necessary to learn the language before you go abroad, it is considered both useful and polite to master a few key phrases.If you can learn basics like hello, thank you, you are welcome, 1-10, restroom, water, and goodbye, you should be able to navigate most situations with a fair degree of tact.In the United States, England, and Canada, rarely are we impressed if somebody takes the time to learn English.In fact, we expect visitors to master English, and we sometimes become irritated if they do not have the basics down.When you travel abroad, however, you all often find that most world citizens appreciate that you have taken the time to learn a few phrases of their language. They wont necessarily expect it of you, but if you can greet someone in his or her native tongue your relationships and interactions will usually yield better results.
How Do I Get in Touch with My Embassy?
Before getting on the plane, you should have all the necessary contact information for the closest consulates and embassies in whatever medical tourism destination you decide to visit.Your governments department of state (or equivalent organization) should be able to provide you with a comprehensive list of embassies and consulates around the world.Embassy World is also a great resource.It is fairly up to date, but given how many embassies there are around the world, you all probably want to check the accuracy of any Web sites, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses ahead of time.
Will I Be Able to Find Over-the-Counter Products Abroad?
In most cases, the answer is yes.If you are looking for diarrhea medication, ibuprofen, laxatives, antihistamines, bandages, antiseptics, nasal sprays, and other health & beauty aids, you should not have too much difficulty locating pharmacies, drug stores, and shopping centers that carry these items.However, you might not always be able to find familiar brands. Equally important, you might not be able to read the safety or dosage information on the sides.This is why we generally recommend taking the most essential items with you.You all probably need to store these items in your checked luggage since many airlines no longer permit liquid containers in carry-on luggage.
Will My Hotel Have Air Conditioning, Cable, and Other Modern Conveniences?
This is a question best left to the hotels.In most cases, however, medical tourism destinations have a wide selection of accommodations, ranging from budget youth hostels all the way up to five star luxury suites.If air conditioning, cable, hot water, room service, and other modern conveniences are extremely important to you, make the necessary arrangements in advance.
Will Medical Marijuana Be a Problem If I Go Abroad?
If you use marijuana for medical purposes, its probably a good idea not to take any of it with you.Even with a doctors note, there is no guarantee that airport security or customs will permit such items.And even if they did, your doctors note will likely have little bearing in whatever medical tourism destination you ultimately visit.You should make special arrangements with your doctor in advance to see if there is some type of temporary substitute you can use throughout the duration of your medical tourism visit.Better safe than sorry.
What Voltage and Power Standards Do Medical Tourism Countries Use?
Sadly, there is no international standard for power outlets, and if you travel abroad, theres a good chance that you all need an adapter, surge protector, or some other type of attachment to make sure that your electrical appliances work properly.If the voltage is too high, your computer or electric shaver might become too hot or short out.If the voltage is too low, these items might not work at all.And in some cases, the voltage will be perfect, but your plugs wont fit into the socket.
For a comprehensive list of electricity requirements around the world, visit the World Standards page.This site has extremely thorough descriptions of the types of plugs needed, voltage requirements, frequency differences, and anything else you might need to know if you plan to travel with electrical appliances.
I Have Respiratory Problems.Â Will That Be a Problem During My Flight?
The air quality in airplanes is not always the best, and thus, its not unusual for respiratory problems to become even more pronounced, especially during 10, 15, and 20 hour flights. Most airlines have fairly standard facilities for emergency respiratory complications, and flight attendants receive basic first aid and CPR training. But if you are someone who suffers from severe respiratory complications (asthma included), you all probably want to alert the airline ahead of time.In certain cases, special provisions can be made for oxygen tanks, extra inhalers, and other types of equipment. But you all need clearance from the airport and airline before you can take these items through security and on the plane.
Its also important to remember that even if you were fine on the way to your medical tourism destination, your post-surgery recovery might require medical equipment on the way back.
Are Most Planes Equipped to Handle My Specific Respiratory Problems?
Do I Need to Bring My Own Oxygen on The Plane If I Have Severe Respiratory Problems?
What Is the Air Quality in This Country?
This answer obviously varies from country to country. And due to constantly changing weather patterns, the quality of air on Monday might be radically different from the quality of air on Tuesday. AIR Now site is a fairly useful resource for researching air quality and pollution, but it does not necessarily have all of the top medical tourism destinations around the world.We recommend using their site in conjunction with Weather.com to develop a more accurate picture.
Are There Restrictions on What I Can Bring on the Plane?
Unfortunately, there are restrictions on what you can take on the plane, and these seem to get broader and broader every day.As a general rule, it makes sense to pack only the essentials in your carry-on bag while you store all other items in your checked luggage.Passports and visas documents should always stay with you.Things like computers, books, cell phones, and writing utensils seem to be OK for certain flights and unacceptable for others.Make sure you call ahead and find out what restrictions apply for your particular country, your particular airline, and your particular medical tourism destination. With regards to medication, the landscape is a little bit more confusing.Generally speaking, all pills (prescription or over-the-counter) should remain in their original packaging. It also helps to have a doctors note that explains your medical condition and why having these pills is necessary.When it comes to liquid medication, however, you all probably need to call ahead and receive clearance from airport security.Cough syrup, eye drops, topical salves, and any other liquid items might be confiscated (and tossed) otherwise.
Keep in mind that you might receive a supply of prescription medications in whatever medical tourism destination you visit. Its not uncommon for doctors and dentists to prescribe antibiotics, vitamins, painkillers, and other essential drugs after surgery.Again, you all need to make the same preparations coming back to your home country as you did going to your medical tourism destination.