Terms like medical tourism and traveling for treatment are becoming big travel buzzwords, and it’s easy to see why! Going abroad for treatment, or just traveling outside your geographical area, can help Americans save a substantial amount of money on medical bills each year and provide them with options for the highest quality of care.
The concept is becoming so popular that many insurance companies and employers are starting to encourage the practice, often covering the cost of both travel and treatment. If your employer is paying for your health benefits through a self-insured plan and you do find yourself traveling and saving your employer money, we have seen that many employers are also incentivizing their employees with bonuses.
The idea of travel for treatment for medical, dental, and wellness tourism is not just about cost savings—it is about finding the highest quality of care around the globe. Receiving care is not limited to just your geographical area. You, as the patient, are given more choices in your health and can recover from your treatment in an exotic place.
For instance, did you know that a knee replacement in the US costs about $35,000 to $65,000 while undergoing the same surgery in Costa Rica or India, including airfare and lodging, costs less than $23,000? And you can bring your family and loved ones for an extended vacation!
The knowledge that you can save money and receive high-quality treatments when traveling abroad for medical tourism is growing. Despite this, some Americans are reluctant to go because of the following myths about traveling overseas.
Myth 1. Everything Is More Expensive When You Travel Abroad
Fact: Not true!
While the exchange rate is something you should keep in the back of your mind, traveling around the world is more do-able than most people think. As mentioned, healthcare costs are generally 20% to 90% less expensive outside of the United States, and the savings don’t stop there!
For 2019, here are some of the top inexpensive destinations for medical treatment that are also high on the lists of known medical tourists and travel experts:
An affordable European vacation destination, Lisbon offers delicious local cuisine, a rich history, and incredible architecture. A Lisbon city pass is about €19 or $21.51, giving visitors 24 hours of admission to see everything from historic monasteries to modern museums using public transportation.
One of Tuscany’s best-kept secrets, Barga is a quiet medieval town an hour outside of Florence. Enjoy the vibrant art scene, local cuisine and wines, and the natural thermal pools that fill the countryside. The winter season is the best time for travelers on a budget, as some hotels and spas are as low as €112 per night, or $127.50.
Known as the jewel of the Pacific, Valparaiso is revered for its bohemian art, lovely parks, plazas, and lively local life. It’s easy to find accommodations for around $54!
Known as a city that just wants to celebrate all that’s good in life, Montreal is a place caught between the past and the present. Montrealers celebrate their French heritage while also welcoming immigrants and embracing the youth of the city who keep the vibrant local life alive. Rooms are easy to find starting around $75 – $150 a night!
Mexico City, Mexico
This beautiful metropolis has topped the charts of many must-see travel lists, and for good reason. For Americans, the exchange rate is in our favor and is currently around 20 pesos for every US dollar. Aside from being able to save, you also get to enjoy the rich history, world-class museums, and renowned cuisine of Mexico.
These are just a sampling of the affordable, popular destinations that are out there waiting for adventurers! As you can see, if you are traveling with a budget in mind, there are new and exciting places around the world that you can experience without breaking the bank.
If you’re worried about going outside of your comfort zone, traveling for treatment can also be done domestically. Just switching hospitals can end up saving you a bundle. For example, it is quite common for people seeking oncology treatments to search all over the US to get second and third opinions. While searching, people often find that they can get the same treatment for less outside of metropolitan areas.
Myth 2: It’s Not Safe Getting Surgery or Healthcare Overseas
Fact: Not true! Medical tourism can be very safe.
American tourists going overseas for medical treatments find that their healthcare experience abroad is much like it as at home. Often, foreign hospitals and agencies that accommodate medical tourists are staffed by highly qualified, English-speaking physicians and surgeons who were trained in North America. These hospitals hold the same quality standards as the US hospitals and are Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited entities.
JCI Accreditation is considered to be the gold standard in global healthcare. Reviving accreditation indicates that the facility consistently provides the highest levels of patient care and outcomes. Most hospitals display their accreditation information prominently on their website. You can check to see if a hospital is accredited online.
Many countries are also known for their excellent medical education and experienced doctors and nurses, including but not limited to: Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Croatia, France, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, South Africa, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and South Korea.
One of the most sought-after treatments by medical tourists is dental care. In fact, the most popular and the safest destinations to go for procedures such as implants and crowns include Mexico, Central Europe, and Eastern Europe.
Granted, there is always a risk with surgery. For example, flying right after an operation can increase your risk of getting a blood clot. This is why many of the medical tourism destinations opt for patients to stay and recuperate for several days before returning home.
However, where there is risk, there is a reward. The global market for medical tourism is growing as much as 25% a year as more people become willing to make the journey to save on the cost of health services. The Global Medical Tourism Market was worth $19.7 billion in 2016 and is estimated to be growing 18.8%, and it is expected to reach $46.6 billion on traveling for treatment by 2021. High treatment costs, long waiting times, advancements in technology, and the development of the market are all major factors that are driving the growth of medical tourism.
Myth 3: Medical Tourists Have to Make All Their Own Arrangements
Fact: Not True!
Today’s medical tourists typically don’t plan their medical retreat themselves. Healthcare companies and medical travel agents often provide medical tourism packages to include travel, hotels, and treatments. Enterprising hotels like Intercontinental, JW Marriott, The Peninsula, and Conrad are also starting to offer packages that include appointments and transfers so the patients can recuperate in the lap of luxury. For example, mymedchoices has private concierge services and care coordinators that are there to help you through the episode of care step by step.
Myth 4: If You Don’t Speak the Native Language, You’ll Have a Bad Time
Fact: Not true!
English is spoken in just about every major city in the world. Out of the 7.5 billion people inhabiting the planet, about 1.5 billion speak English, which is roughly 20% of the Earth’s population. English is the most commonly studied language, so there’s a good chance that you will be able to communicate just fine with the locals you meet during your travels.
If you’re worried about communicating effectively, most insurance companies will cover 100% of the interpretation costs when traveling. You can brush up on your language skills before you go as well! There are a ton of apps you can download right onto your phone today like Duolingo to quickly learn some key phrases and vocabulary.
You can also consider getting a translation aid. Handheld translator devices that feel right out of Star Trek are available for between $59 – $200 at online retailers to help ensure you’re always understood.
Myth 5: Foreigners Don’t Like Americans
Fact: Not true!
While this is a common fear many Americans have when traveling abroad, many foreign cities thrive from tourists’ circulation and will welcome you with open arms. On the whole, many foreigners find Americans to be friendly, outgoing, and approachable.
While it’s true that not everyone you meet is going to be friendly at home or abroad, here are a few things you can do to ensure you have a great time without upsetting the locals:
- Show interest and be receptive to new experience, peoples, and cultures. No one is expecting you to be an expert on the nuances of their culture or history, but they will appreciate a show of interest in their lives and country. Be sure to listen to the guides, your hosts, and locals that you meet.
- Although English is widely spoken and some technologies can give you a hand, knowing some basic phrases in the native language of the country you are visiting will help you out. Learning how to say hello, thank you, and please will go a long way.
- Don’t ignore the local cuisine! Not only will you miss out on a large chunk of the country’s culture, but you’ll be known as the person who ordered fries in the middle of Italy.
The Benefits of Medical Tourism: Save on Your Care
If the idea of traveling to receive treatment abroad is sounding more exciting to you, you are not alone! The estimated number of medical tourists in all counties in 2017 was over 16 million people and growing!
Find affordable treatments, transparent pricing, and experiences unlike anywhere else when you use mymedchoices to get better. We only work with hospitals that have received accreditation to ensure our clients are provided the best care. Our care coordinators will also guide you through the process every step of the way. Start your care journey today and contact us.