According to the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions' 2009 report, “Medical Tourism: Update and Implications,” medical tourism can provide up to 70 percent in savings after travel expenses. Savings of the magnitude can be intriguing, especially to people in need of costly treatments, for example cardiac, spinal or cosmetic procedures.
Before you start planning your overseas trip for treatment, get cultured on some medical tourism findings -- plus some of the difficulties involved when going overseas for serious surgical procedures.
In 2007, about 750,000 Americans traveled abroad for health care, according to Deloitte, which projects the dpi could increase to 1.Six million by 2012. Needless to say, medical tourism is gaining interest, and some insurance programs are becoming involved.
In November 2008, health insurer WellPoint unveiled its medical tourism pilot program with Serigraph Inc., a Wisconsin-based graphics company. Under the program, Serigraph members can opt for medical treatment overseas at designated, accredited facilities in India. Non-emergency procedures that cost much more domestically, such as joint replacement and upper- and lower-back fusion, are covered under this plan of action, according to WellPoint.
The Medical Tourism Association (Global Healthcare Association), a global nonprofit association for the medical tourism and global healthcare industry, conducted a patient survey in May 2009 to discover how patients who traveled to Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, for health care rated their experience.
When asked the way they would rate the hospital whether or not they received medical care, 68 percent of the sufferers responded "excellent," 25 percent said "very good" and Five percent said "average." The remaining 2 percent responded "below average" or "poor."
Seventy-six percent said there have been no language barriers or communication problems in the hospital. Twenty-two percent said they'd occasional problems but they didn't significantly affect their experiences, and also the remaining 2 percent said they'd problems in this category and they significantly affected their experiences.
80 % felt the service they received was more personalized compared to the United States.
Fifty-four percent did not have medical health insurance.
Sixty-two percent said the overall medical experience was much better than it would have been in the United States, while 32 percent said hello would have been equal to the United States and 6 % said it was worse.
When scouting out hospitals on foreign soil, it's wise to do some research. Find out how long a healthcare facility has been established and whether it's accredited. Hospitals with Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation are top options. JCI educates and advises international healthcare organizations and helps them improve practices and operations so they can provide first-rate service.
Organizations like Companion Global Healthcare Inc., a subsidiary of BlueCross BlueShield of Sc, offer services to help their clients locate these accredited hospitals abroad and may assist them in scheduling appointments, making routes, managing medical cases and arranging follow-up care in the usa.
Weighing pros and cons
Do your homework if you are considering traveling abroad to get medical care. Although you might reduce the procedure, follow-up care and therapy during the United States might be expensive -- and never covered by insurance.
Also keep in mind that if something goes completely wrong, you might not have legal recourse, based on MedicalTourism.com. If you are disabled or killed with a procedure, it will be difficult, otherwise impossible, for you or your family to prove malpractice.
Compare the expense of local treatment against those found on foreign soil to see be it worth your while. Take into consideration the long flight home, travel costs, room and board and native transportation. If you know others who have traveled overseas for the same procedure, ask about their doctors and find out whether you think one might meet your needs. While you can usually scope out a close facility in advance to make sure it is a good fit, that's not an always a choice when the hospital is a plane ride away.