Medical tourism is the practice of travelling across a border in order to receive medical care. It can also refer to the practice of medical health companies travelling across borders to deliver health care.
Why do people do this?
The following are some reasons why individuals may travel outside of their country to receive medical care.
In some countries the health care that is available is simply not as good as it is in other countries. Many people who can afford to do it will rather travel across borders to receive health care than go to a medical practitioner in their own country.
One of the major reasons that people practice medical tourism, however, is so that they can receive specific treatments that may only be available at certain institutions that happen to be based in another country.
Some doctors or surgeons may have founded certain treatments or surgeries and may be the best in their field at certain things. Patients will travel into other countries and across borders to receive treatment from these experts.
In some medical institutions or areas, doctors may spend more time studying a rare disorder or disease and may have more experience with that particular illness than any other doctors. People who suffer from these rare diseases and disorders will then travel to these areas to receive treatment or to become involved in studies.
Medical tourism could also be caused by very high health care costs. Individuals may not be able to afford certain treatments or surgeries and may be obliged to travel beyond borders to receive affordable treatment.
Another reason for medical tourism is that there is often a long waiting period for certain surgeries or treatments. Patients who want to get treatment as soon as possible may travel outside of their home country to another country where the queue is shorter.
About medical tourism
The following facts will give you a bit more information about medical tourism.
- More than 50 different countries refer to medical tourism as an actual industry.
- Other names for medical tourism include medical travel, global healthcare and health tourism.
- In Taiwan a liver transplant will cost less than a third of what it would cost in the United States of America.
- Public health care systems are highly taxed and can mean a longer waiting period for certain non-urgent treatments and surgeries.
- In Thailand or South Africa, some surgeries cost less than a tenth of what they do in Western first world countries like the United Kingdom.
How does medical tourism work?
As with anything, there is a specific process in place for individuals who want to partake in medical tourism for whatever reason.
The first step involves the individual looking for health care contacts a medical travel provider. A medical report is required which includes the following details:
- A doctor’s opinion of the illness or ailment
- A medical report
- A medical history
There may be some additional information required and then the entire package is sent to medical experts in the desired location.
These experts will discuss the best way to handle the situation and advise treatment and then the medical tourism provider will put together the plans.
The patient and the medical tourism provider will discuss accommodation, duration of stay and other details and then consent will be given, both parties will sign their agreement and the individual will be given a recommendation letter for a medical visa.
Once the patient has arrived in the destination, an assigned case executive will manage the patient’s care, accommodation and any other details. The patient can remain in the destination for a short time after the medical care has been received or they can go home immediately.