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Medical Tourism Guide

Today, cheap yet world-class surgeries are just a flight away. But the deluge of information available out there can overwhelm anybody. So, here is a quick guide to medical tourism to answer most of your questions about the phenomenon. 
 

WHAT IS MEDICAL TOURISM?

Medical Tourism is the process of traveling abroad to receive superior medical, dental and cosmetic care by highly skilled surgeons at some of the most modern and state-of-the-art medical facilities in the world...all at a fraction of the price in the US, UK and Canada.

Medical Tourism gives the global medical tourist the opportunity to get the best quality of medical surgery, cosmetic plastic surgery and dental surgery at significantly lower costs. While low costs are the primary motivation to travel abroad, some medical tourists seek medical care overseas because of immediate availability of procedures and sometimes the unavailability of certain procedures. 
 

HISTORY OF MEDICAL TOURISM

Medical tourism is not a new concept. It has been practiced by wealthy Europeans and Asians for decades when they would travel within their continent and sometimes even to the US to seek health related treatments. 
 

MEDICAL TOURISM OFFERINGS

  1. Incredible Savings: Savings depend upon where you choose to have your surgery and the cost of the procedure in your home country. Compare a $7,000 hip resurfacing in India with a $48,000 one in the US. That's more than 80% savings even after you have paid for your travel, stay and vacation. In general you are able to save at least 50% (say for a dental fix-up across the border in Mexico).
  2. Excellent Quality: The quality standards are superior to what you get in the US, UK or Canada. Many international providers choose to be accredited by organizations like JCI, JCAHO and ISO or by local accrediting organizations to demonstrate their commitment to quality. If in doubt, read testimonials by patients who have experienced treatment overseas.
  3. World-Class Facilities: Most medical tourists will tell you that international hospital facilities are comparable to 5-star hotels with luxurious accommodation, private spacious rooms, and easy access to hospitality services.
  4. Access to Latest Technology: The technology used by international health care providers is the latest and the greatest. Providers invest heavily in new technology and training of surgeons.
  5. Surgeon Expertise: Most surgeons catering to international patients have either been educated or have received professional training at top schools in the US, UK or in other countries in Europe. They are usually well-versed in English and have experience serving foreign patients.
  6. No Wait-Lists: Access to immediate service is what attracts those from countries that have public health care system towards medical tourism. Canadians and British prefer to have their hip resurfacing surgery or spine surgery in India for a few thousand dollars than to live with a bad hip or back for 2 years.
  7. Personalized Service: Personalized service is another factor contributing to the popularity of medical tourism. Most medical tourists vouch for the genuine and excellent service that they receive from surgeons, nurses and other medical staff alike. Most of them further go on to say that they have never experienced such service at any hospital in the US, UK or Canada.
  8. Longer Hospital Stay: One of the advantages of medical tourism is you get to stay in the hospital for long without incurring hefty room charges. You can have a longer hospital stay than possible in your local hospital back home under the supervision of your surgeon and physical therapist.
  9. Great Convenience: Given the ease of international travel combined with low airfares, your life-changing surgery is just a flight away. Not just that, you can even bring family and friends along.
  10. Travel Opportunities: While the primary motivation for most customers is affordable surgery, the opportunity to visit exotic destinations is an additional draw for some. You can choose to have a relaxing recovery in a resort setting or if your surgeon allows you can even enjoy other tourist attractions.
 
 

MEDICAL TOURISM AND SAFETY

Medical tourism is safe but only if you do your homework properly. With the large amount of information that's available out there and companies touting customers with "sun, sand and surgery" packages, it's all too easy to fall into the trap and end up at a wrong place to go under the knife by a wrong person. So do your due diligence or work with a trusted medical tourism facilitator. 
 

WHO SHOULD BE INTERESTED IN MEDICAL TOURISM?

Medical tourism has benefits for the all global medical consumers at large. However, in general, most American medical tourists are either uninsured, underinsured or those seeking elective surgeries not covered under their insurance plans. Many Canadians and Britons resort to medical tourism due to the never-ending wait-lists in their respective country and because of the easy accessibility to the needed surgeries that medical tourism accords. 
 

WHICH COUNTRIES OFFER THE BEST SERVICES?

There are many countries that have the infrastructure, technology and expertise to make them world-class medical tourism destinations. And more and more countries are plunging into the business. The most popular travel destinations are India, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil, Belgium, and Argentina amongst others. Some of these countries are considered best for cardiac surgery, others for orthopedic surgery and yet others for cosmetic surgery. 
 

CHOOSING YOUR DESTINATION COUNTRY

As mentioned above, today you have a wide variety of countries to choose from for your medical tourism needs. In such a market it's vital you make your selection wisely. Your decision should be based on the following factors:

  1. Quality: Some countries have the repute for top quality cosmetic surgery while others are famous for their world class orthopedics so make your choice accordingly.
  2. Distance: A cross-border country would be a prudent choice than a far-off country for small and quick dental works like bridging or cleaning so you do not have to spend a lot on transportation. However, when considering major dental work like full mouth restoration it might pay to travel that long distance and go to the far-off country for low-cost high quality dental care.
  3. Cost: Although quality should be compromised at no cost, yet cost can play an important role when making your decision for which country and hospital to choose. The costs involved are not just those related directly to the surgery but also those involving transportation, accommodation and other related costs.
 
 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT PROVIDER

Just like there are many medical tourism destinations, there are many providers who have medical tourism offerings. Some of them are good and some not-so-good. How do you make your choice in such a situation? Well, there are many things that can help you make your choice. Firstly, don't get swayed by attractive packages and fancy websites. Find out as much as you can through research. Learn from the experience of others: Read and watch what others are saying about the particular hospital, clinic or surgeon. Check out the facility pictures and videos as that can give you a good idea of its standard of quality. Other facts you should consider are:

  1. Accreditation: This gives you an idea of the hospital's commitment to quality. The accreditation could be local or international such as JCI, JCAHO, ISO, etc.
  2. Awards: This will tell you how recognized the hospital is locally and internationally.
  3. Facility and Equipments: To get an idea of the quality standards and how advanced the technology used in the hospital is.
  4. Statistics: Like success rate (especially for the medical department that you are interested in), outpatients, inpatients, etc. For example: treats 300 international hip resurfacing patients annually with 100% success rate.
  5. Language: You should ensure that the hospital that you are going to has English speaking staff or at least has translators / interpreters.
 
 

WILL MY HEALTH INSURANCE PAY FOR IT?

Insurance companies are keenly looking into medical tourism as an option though most haven't adopted it into their plans yet. If you do have it in your plan then coverage may vary. Some insurers bear the full cost of treatment including airfare, hotel accommodation, etc. for the patient as well as a companion. Other insurers or plans may have different coverage. Check with your health insurer for details. 
 

SHOULD I COMBINE SUN, SAND AND SEA WITH SURGERY?

That depends.

Usually after a fresh cosmetic surgery, you are advised not to expose your body to the sun or to sea water as they can interfere with your recovery process and can leave long-time or even permanent scars. The chemicals from sunscreen may also have a deteriorating effect on the newly cosmeticized skin. But, you can always choose to enjoy the "sun, sand and sea" before your surgery.

With certain other medical procedures like cardiac or orthopedic surgeries, it's best for you to stay indoors and relax, or exercise as instructed by your physical therapist after your surgery.

In any case, you should concentrate more on the medical part. Tourism should be done only if your surgeon does not object to it. So, always consult your surgeon if you have travel or tourism on your mind. 
 

WHAT ARE MEDICAL TOURISM FACILITATORS?

Medical tourism facilitators like Healthbase are specialized facilitators that connect you with the hospital of your choice while providing all or some other valuable services like detailed information about various procedures, detailed hospital profiles and surgeon profiles, medical records transfer, free surgery quote, pre- and post-consultation with the overseas hospital, feedback and testimonials from previous patients, medical and dental loan financing, passport and visa, airport pick-up and drop-off, hospital escort, tickets, travel insurance, hotel booking, tourism services in the destination country, etc. 
 

This medical tourism guide is just a starting step. You should do the proper required research before you fly to your medical tourism destination. 
 

You can learn more about the growing trend of medical tourism, international healthcare facilities and surgeons and the details of the medical tourism process by logging on to http://www.healthbase.com. Healthbase.com is a medical tourism facilitator committed to providing low-cost high quality medical travel services to the global medical consumer.

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Healthbase, an award-winning* medical tourism facilitator in USA, is the trusted source for global medical and dental choices, connecting patients to leading healthcare facilities worldwide. We arrange a variety of medical tourism services from basic consultations to full service treatment abroad. We help you to take care of all your medical tourism details from arranging the surgery and financing options to visas, travel, lodging and tourism.

Healthbase caters to the needs of individual consumers, self-funded businesses, insurance carriers, benefit consultants, insurance agents, and third party administrators seeking affordable medical travel and dental travel options. Our state-of-the-art, easy to use, information rich web-based system makes it easy to coordinate international medical care including necessary travel and accommodation for patients and their companions, all at one place.

The cost of surgical care at our ever growing network of affiliated institutions is typically a fraction of the cost of care in the U.S. with equal or superior outcomes. Healthbase arranges first class services for patients at major internationally accredited hospitals in Thailand, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Turkey, Belgium, Hungary, Costa Rica, Panama, Brazil, Mexico, USA and is expanding to Canada, UK, Jordan,Taiwan, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, El Salvador and Guatemala.

We offer over two hundred medical, dental and cosmetic procedures in various categories: Orthopedic procedures such as hip replacement, Birmingham hip resurfacing, artificial knee replacement, rotator cuff repair, knee surgery; Cardiac and Vascular procedures like heart bypass (multiple coronary artery bypass graft or CABG), aortic aneurysm repair, heart valve repair, heat valve replacement, angioplasty, RF Ablation; Spinal procedures such as spine fusion, laminectomy, disc replacement; Weight-loss procedures like gastric bypass, lap band, gastric sleeve; Eye procedures like LASIK; Cosmetic and Plastic surgery procedures such as breast augmentation, face lift, rhinoplasty (nose surgery), liposuction; Dental procedures such as orthognathic surgery, dental bridges, dental implants, dental crowns; dental veneers; and hundreds of other procedures in the departments of Urology, General surgery, Wellness and many more. The savings are up to 80% of typical US hospital prices.

Medical Tourism, also termed as Medical Travel, Health Travel, Health Tourism, Global Healthcare, Medical Vacation, Medical Value Travel, Medical Treatment Abroad, International Medical, Surgical Tourism, Surgery Abroad, Surgical Trip, Healthcare Abroad, Medical Outsourcing, offshore Medical and Overseas Medical, is the act of traveling abroad to receive medical, dental and cosmetic care. Significantly lower cost for best practice care is usually the primary motivation behind medical tourism although some medical tourists go abroad for immediate availability of procedures and to seek treatments that are not available in their home country. Patients frequently also take advantage of the opportunity to vacation and tour inexpensively in the foreign country while they are visiting for health care. Signup to know more about medical or dental tourism.

* - Awarded the "Best Website for Accessing International Medical Information for Patients/Consumers" by Consumer Health World 2007.


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