Medical Tourism: Is It Worth It?
Medical procedures in the US are quite expensive. The average medical cost for a person living the United States is over $10,000, that’s more than most Americans spend on food. It can be worth it, or even financially necessary, to leave the country in order to get surgery; plus, who wouldn’t love to have a long vacation relaxing at a resort after surgery instead of hiding in your dark house like a cat about to die? We’re here to help answer if Medical Tourism is worth it or not.
Traveling for medical procedures can be fun, and it is definitely cheaper, as long as you are wary of the many pitfalls of leaving the US and engaging in medical tourism.
Road Trip? Or Is Flying Mandatory?
Whether it’s your hip going bad or you just want a little bit shaved off the end of your nose, you may be hesitant to drive or fly. Whether you are worried about recovery loopiness or the air pressure changes and infection risks on the plane, both options have their downfalls. Looking at what makes you feel comfortable is important to your recovery and will vastly improve your experience.
When considering whether you’ll fly or drive also determine whether you can afford hotels along the way, need to just make a quick trip, or have alternative lodging options available, like friends and family, or an RV. If you have an RV the benefits are fairly obvious, you can save money, and potentially live out of it on the beach during recovery, depending on the location, otherwise you’ll likely want to stay in a comfortable, familiar hotel who can cater to your recovery needs. RV-ing down, or taking a trailer could add some initial expenses if you really want to deck out your trailer, but ultimately save you some cash in lodging. Taking lodging with you can save you from the unfamiliar, save you some cash, and give you the option to explore the country from a comfortable hide-away. Plus, who wouldn’t love the option to leave your healing hobbit hole and see some world while still staying comfortable?
Can the Procedure Dictate the Country?
Oh heck yes!!!
Paying attention to what procedure you need and the medical practices in your country of choice can dramatically change the level of care you receive. Medical tourism is a great idea to save money and have a little fun in a foreign country, but something as seemingly small like asbestos exposure can have disastrous consequences. For example, Mexico, a popular destination for cheaper medical costs, has had a lot more trouble removing asbestos from buildings — meaning it might be a good choice for dental procedures, but less great for any invasive surgeries. Choosing your hospital becomes one of the most important choices when engaging in medical tourism, as many private hospitals hold higher standards than the usual public facility.
Another aspect of medical tourism that is important to out for is hospitals. When choosing a country with a standard of care that is equal to the United States. The standard of care in Italy is on par with the US, but private and public hospitals are different levels of comfort. In an Italian public hospital you may be required to bring your own food, towels, and entertainment. Whether it’s bringing your own laptop and wifi hotspot in an Italian hospital or calling ahead when going to Spain it’s the small comforts that make the difference. Plus, with almost a $10,000 difference between getting a total hip replacement in the US versus going to a private hospital in Spain, it is definitely worth it to save some money and do the leg work to be prepared. Call ahead, check out the facilities in your hospital of choice, meet with your doctors, make sure your insurance covers you abroad, and enjoy where ever you chose to go.
Should You Take the Risk?
There are some serious risks in leaving the standard of care you are used to for medical tourism. It will require you to do research on what level of care is available, what hospital can offer the recovery comfort you need, and what sort of extra costs might be facing you. The risks vary by country, and there may be a travel risk to discuss with your doctor, but for almost half the cost, it’s worth it to travel.
Mary Grace | August 24, 2017
Mary Grace lives in the beautiful Boise, Idaho. She loves hiking skiing, and everything in between. You can always tweet her @marmygrace, or email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, concerns, or just want to talk about travel!