Medical Treatment Abroad: Pros & Cons - GO.CARE Blog

Pros/Cons of Getting Medical Treatment Abroad

Author: Trâm Võ
Review Date: June 14, 2019 | Last Modified: September 25, 2019
Pros/Cons of Getting Medical Treatment Abroad

Medical tourism is the act of traveling to receive medical, cosmetic or dental treatment in another country. These days, this practice has become much more prevalent. People opt for medical treatment abroad for various reasons.

Also called health tourism/ medical travel, medical tourism is becoming more and more popular in the world. It has become a viable choice for even those living in developed countries. Most patients enjoy many health and cost benefits from this type of medical examination.

Why People Get Medical Treatment Abroad

  • Financial reasons: While the costs of overseas treatments are by no means small, they can still be, in some cases, much lower than those of local treatments. This is especially true for patients in developed countries such as the United States. For example, a gastric bypass procedure in the US can cost up to 41,000 US dollars, but only 9,500 in India and 22,000 in Korea;
  • Insurance problem: A patient’s health insurance does not always cover the costs of some specific medical procedure(s). Hence, they have a reason to seek overseas treatment;
  • Long waitlist: Certain medical procedures require the patient to be put on the waitlist before actually getting the treatment. In many cases, the patient pursues medical tourism simply because they cannot afford to wait that long;
  • Unavailability: A patient may also choose to get their medical treatment abroad if a specific procedure is not available in their country. For example, stem cell therapy is not considered an official type of medical treatment in countries such as Australia. For this reason, Australian patients have no other option but to travel to countries such as Thailand, where this procedure is really popular;
  • Traveling need: Going abroad for medical treatment provides patients with the opportunity to travel and visit new places. This becomes much more appealing these days, considering the simplicity and affordability of international travel;
  • Easy access to information: The Internet’s increasing development has made it easier for people to get information and contact healthcare providers everywhere.

The Advantages of Medical Travel

Medical Tourism Benefits

Traveling to get medical treatment abroad can be beneficial to the patient in the following ways:

Cost Reduction

Low medical expenses are the number one reason why people go abroad for medical treatment. In countries like the US, the costs of certain medical procedures have risen so much that they outweigh even the collective costs of traveling, accommodation, treatment, and other factors altogether.

Despite the lower costs, patients should have little worry about getting medical treatment abroad. As long as they choose an internationally accredited hospital, they should be treated with skilled professionals and advanced technology.

Accessibility

The waiting list for certain medical procedures in some countries, even in the private sector, can be extensive. In some cases, a patient’s treatment may be delayed up to a year or more. By traveling to a different country, you may not have to wait as long, or even skip the waiting part altogether.

On the other hand, traveling abroad may provide access to medical procedures that are not yet available where you live: In many countries, especially developed ones, medical procedures have to undergo strict research before being available to the population. This essentially means some treatments may not be locally available when the patient needs it. Therefore, patients had better look for the same treatment somewhere else.

Quality

It is a common misconception that medical treatment in developing countries is not as good as that in the developed ones. In fact, foreign hospitals and clinics that cater to the tourist market are often some of the best in the world. Many of them boast state-of-the-art facilities, highly skilled doctors and nurses, and high-quality care.

Furthermore, some countries are exceptionally famous for certain medical procedures. For example, countries such as India and South Korea are two of the world’s leaders in biotechnology and stem cell research.

Other perks

There are other benefits that medical travel may provide as well. For instance, privacy is an appealing factor when it comes to unconventional treatments like butt enhancement or fat reduction. By getting these treatments overseas, you are less likely to have your secrets revealed to your friends and relatives!

Certain Risks of Medical Travel

Medical Tourism Risks

Like most things, getting your medical treatment abroad is not completely without any setback or risk. Disadvantages that you should consider before making the final call include:

Compromised healthcare quality

It is not uncommon for foreign patients to experience health defects afterward. This is especially true if they do not use the services of an accredited hospital. In some cases, the medical traveler may be prescribed detrimental drugs or affected by unexplained viruses and antibiotic-resistant germs. Foreign doctors may even take advantage of the lack of foreign regulation to use outdated equipment for the sake of saving money. You should not, for any reason, deliberately choose to compromise your own health to lessen the financial costs.

A lack of safety nets

It can be extremely problematic for medical travelers to resolve any medical complication after the treatment. This is because there is often no international agreement that looks out for the safety of foreign patients. Not to mention, the regulation of medical liability may be very loose in the country you are going to. Simply put, you can be completely helpless if something goes wrong.

Moreover, it can be extremely difficult for you to pursue legal actions if something does go wrong due to bureaucratic hurdles. The doctors or surgeons themselves may not even be insured of malpractice. In general, the occurrence of unexpected situation tends to be more difficult to deal with than if it was to happen in the patient’s home country.

Potential excessive costs

If you decide to get medical treatment abroad, remember that there are things to pay for other than treatment(s), accommodation, transportation, etc. Unless you have carefully calculated the actual and potential costs, there is a chance that the total expenses may outweigh the costs of local treatment. Moreover, the final cost may unexpectedly rise if you end up having medical complications after the treatment.

A possible lack of pre-treatment care and post-treatment care

There is a chance that the hospital you are going to does not provide adequate treatment before and after the actual treatment procedure. In many cases, pre-treatment and post-treatment care are extremely important, especially if either your medical condition or procedure is debilitating, or if the treatment has side effects. Make sure you confirm with the hospital regarding this matter before you go.

Misinformation

Misinformation in your process of researching can potentially be catastrophic. The consequences range from being put in unaccredited hospitals, being treated by unlicensed doctors, and having your medical procedure inadequately carried out. Before going for medical treatment abroad, make sure to carefully research your medical institute and their doctors/surgeons.

On the other hand, you will be in a setting that is vastly different from what you are familiar with. It is important to note that going overseas to acquire treatment is not, in any way, the same as doing it just for the sake of traveling. Sometimes, the language barrier, as well as the cultural and setting differences, can make you very uncomfortable and anxious, especially when you are there to get medical treatment.

Conclusion

Due to several reasons, medical tourism has become a true phenomenon these days. Contrary to people’s assumption, medical treatment abroad is very viable in terms of quality, price, convenience, etc. That is, as long as travelers are well-equipped with appropriate and sufficient information.

Traveling to other countries for medical treatment presents various benefits and risks. Therefore, before booking your flight, make sure to gather enough critical information. If you can manage to do that, then we wish you the best of luck in your health journey!

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Do you intend to take a medical trip abroad? Visit GO.CARE’s website to learn more about the best hospitals & clinics in Asia, along with treatments and prices.

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  5. Medical tourism tips for Americans thinking of overseas treatment. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/01/medical-tourism-tips-advantages-disadvantages_n_1561408.html. Accessed May 4th 2018

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