Getting treatment abroad
Nowadays, acquiring medical treatment is no longer limited within the borders of a patient’s home country. In fact, medical tourism has been growing in popularity around the world, with more patients seeking overseas treatment every day.
There are several reasons why a patient would choose to have their treatment done overseas:
• Financial reasons: Medical tourism is often assumed to be very costly. While the costs of acquiring overseas treatment are by no means low, many patients choose to do this because the costs of the same treatment in their country are even higher. For example, a gastric bypass procedure in the United States can cost up to 41,000 US dollars, but the same procedure would only cost 9,500 in India and 22,000 in Korea.
• A waitlist that is very long: Many medical procedures will require the patient to be put on a waitlist before the actual procedure can be performed. This may prompt the patient to look for overseas treatment as, in many cases, the patient simply cannot wait that long.
• Unavailability: In many countries, certain medical procedures may not (yet) be accessible to patients, which can be due to different reasons. For example, before any medical procedure can be made available to the population, it has to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, which is not always simple.
Budgeting tips for getting medical treatment abroad
One of the most important things to consider before actually going overseas is to consider all the possible costs of the journey. This includes thinking about the amounts of money you can or expect to spend for the trip and the extra expenses you may have to pay for. Listed below are a few budget planning tips that you should consider before embarking on your journey:
1. Choosing the right country and hospital
Before getting medical treatment abroad, you must know the country you are going to and the medical institute in which your treatment will take place. These choices have a lot to do with how much you are going to have to spend, as the transportation and treatment costs vary with the countries and the hospitals, respectively.
It is important to note that you should not, for any reason, deliberately choose to compromise the healthcare quality you are going to receive for the sake of cheaper costs. As long as the costs are within an affordable range, you should aim to choose a country and a medical institute that you think will be able to provide you with optimal results.
When you are doing your research, make sure to note down the price ranges that different countries, cities, and hospitals offer. You can then compare these price ranges and, together with your medical needs and other factors, choose the most suitable and cost-effective medical institute to be treated in.
2. Consider if travelling abroad for medical treatment is really worth it
If you are pursuing overseas treatment because the same procedure seems too costly in your region, keep in mind that aside from the cost of the procedure itself, you will also have to pay for a variety of other things if you choose to have the treatment done in another country. The sum of all these costs may even, in many cases, outweigh the high local treatment costs that you are trying to get around.
You should carefully consider if the trip is really worth it, especially if you are planning to travel solely for the sake treatment and that you are shouldering all the expenses along the way. Keep in mind that if you do end up going (and paying for everything), you will have to pay for things like accommodation, transportation, and other related costs including those caused by unexpected post-treatment health complications. If you are going to the destination country for other reasons anyway or if your employer is offering to cover your expenses, however, you may benefit a lot from getting the treatment done abroad.
3. Think twice about package pricing
As the demand for medical tourism is rising around the world, you might be offered packages that are seemingly beneficial. However, before you agree to anything, make sure you carefully read the fine print to know what is included and what is not, especially if the treatment you seek involves surgeries. Moreover, the actual costs of the treatment(s) will most often depend on your immediate condition, which essentially means they can (largely) fluctuate. Most of the time, it is still better to plan a budget based on quoted prices after an assessment of your condition rather than opting for “blanket” pricing.
4. Be specific, honest, and thorough with your health conditions
It is important for your doctors abroad to thoroughly understand your current health condition and medical history in order to provide you with the most suitable course of treatment. When you contact the hospital, make sure you provide the doctor with anything related to your health that you can think of. In most cases, you will have to go over various medical records and possibly a physical assessment before you can get a detailed price quotation for your treatment.
5. Get a detailed quotation of the costs you expect to pay for
Before actually going overseas, make sure you have a detailed quotation of all the possible medical costs you may have to pay for. Thoroughly research about the procedure you are going to have and break it down into different items in order to properly understand the things you are going to pay for. Your final price quotation may include:
- Doctors’ fees
- The fees of other specialists (e.g. an anesthesiologist)
- Material costs of things like breast implants or anesthesia
- Medication fees during and after your stay
- Fees for laboratory tests and diagnostic imaging before, during, and after your treatment
- Operating room costs
- Room rates for inpatient procedures
- The costs of follow-up appointments and other related costs
Keep in mind that no matter where you are getting treated, there still are risks of post-treatment complications. When you are discussing with the hospital, make sure to confirm if the costs mentioned above have included the costs of possible post-treatment complications.
6. Pay attention to additional costs
There are, in fact, many hidden costs that you may not have thought of before going on your journey. Examples of situations in which you may have to pay extra include:
• Post-treatment medical complication: If you experience health complications after the treatment has been carried out, you may have to pay extra in order to have those complications dealt with. This makes it critical for you to thoroughly understand all the risks associated with the procedure before actually taking part in the procedure.
• Prolonged time in the hospital: One of the common extra costs is the room rates to accommodate the entire length of your hospital stay. You may have to stay in the hospital for a certain period of time after the treatment if you experience health complications or if you are required to do so for the sake of post-treatment observation and recovery.
• Additional medications and medical treatments: As mentioned before, the treatments and medications you may or may not require depend on your health condition at the time. Your doctor may need to prescribe extra medications and/or other treatment procedures before, during, or after the treatment. What you can do before you go is to ask the hospital about any possible extra cost and prepare for them if there is any. Additionally, you should also check if the quoted medication costs include those of the take-home medications after your treatment.
7. Thoroughly plan the budget for your entire trip
Aside from the costs of the procedure itself, you should plan for other expenses as if it was a trip for any other purpose. These expenses include those for:
Passport renewal and visa application: Before embarking on your journey, make sure your passport is up to date and that you have a visa if your destination country requires so. It is also important to note that the process of a visa application may take a lot of time, so you may want to plan your early ahead if you do not have a visa ready.
• Airfare: When you are choosing a country to go to, make sure to have a look at the prices of its plane tickets. The prices are likely to increase with the distance between your current location and your destination country.
• Accommodation: Unless you are going to stay with an overseas relative, you are probably going to have to stay in a hotel. If you do stay in a hotel, make sure to inform them of your condition and if you would like to have any extra assistance or arrangement from the hotel (e.g. having a wheelchair prepared). It is important to for you to also plan for the extra amount of time for which you will have to stay after the treatment for the sake of post-treatment recovery and observation.
• Living expenses: Aside from all of the expenses mentioned above, keep in mind that you and your travel companion (if any) will also need to spend some time in the country. This essentially means you should be prepared to pay for meals, transportations, and other living expenses in addition to the expenses mentioned above.
• Travel insurance: You should also consider having travel insurance that covers trip cancellation, accidental death, flight accident, travel, major or emergency medical evaluation, and other travel-related financial losses.
8. Think about the expenses you are you going to have to pay for before and after your trip
Before travelling, you may want to or, in some cases, be required to have different types of vaccinations. This and other pre-trip procedures may cost extra, so you should also prepare for this. After the trip, you may also have to arrange follow-up appointments with your local doctor, which may also be extra costs.
GO.CARE does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.