Could you save money by seeking medical treatment abroad?

An Introduction to Medical Tourism

by Jem Mosley

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With the rising costs of health care nationally, people are looking for medical help in places abroad, perhaps even making the trip to get a procedure done to fit in with a vacation they or their families want to take.

Medical tourism is a term that was created by the travel business to better suit the ideals of traveling across the border to a different country to attain medical help. It can also apply when speaking of the actual health professional going to a different country to practice medicine.

When it comes to the finance part of medical tourism, in the US, there is the general rule that if the procedure costs less than $6000, then it isn't worth traveling for. On the other hand, if it is more than this amount, it is highly likely that you will save on the cost of the procedure. When comparing the cost of these procedures, it's easy to see how this can be the case. For example, compare primary nose rhinoplasty, which cost approximately $7,300 in the US to just $2,900 in India. Once you have taken flights and accommodation (relevant for the period of time you'll need for aftercare, follow up surgery or recovery) into account, you will most likely save money. As mentioned, the time that you'll need to be at your chosen destination is most likely to present the biggest problem, which means you need to assess the surgical procedure you wish to take in studious detail.

The main market for medical tourism is that of the elective procedure, such as many forms of plastic surgery. If you are considering traveling abroad to achieve your ideal body for a lower price or you just want to get the procedure in a nicer climate than where you're from, there is a list of questions you should always ask the surgeon before you let them cut.

Are you qualified to complete my surgery?

This question is absolutely crucial for you to ask. When you go to other countries, it may be difficult for you to recognize whether or not the surgeon you are seeing has been trained adequately. You also don't know if their practice is "up to code." Be sure you are in a safe environment. Better yet, be sure to choose an ASPS surgeon, one who is qualified to cut abroad.

Will I receive adequate post-op care?

This is another super important question. Are you going to be in good hands during the healing process? Will you have someone to call in the case of infection or rejection? Some plastics procedures can take weeks to heal. Be sure you are going to get the right level of post-op care, including bandage and dressing changes and access to antibiotics in the case of infection. To be extremely safe (worst case scenario only), make sure your insurance will cover you if you end up having dangerous complications from an overseas surgery.

Are you going to be safe vacationing and getting surgery at the same time?

Make sure that you choose only safe activities to participate in while you're on "vacation" after your procedure. Are your planned activities going to push you too hard after a difficult procedure? Make sure you discuss your plans, including flight plans, with your surgeon and get their input on what you should and shouldn't do while on vacation after your surgery.

Plastics abroad can be safe and secure if you do your part.

As long as you watch out for yourself and make sure that you aren't saving money by putting yourself at risk, medical tourism isn't necessarily a dangerous thing. Ideally you'll find a well-respected and well-practiced facility and surgeon. However, if there is doubt in your mind at all, history shows that if something doesn't seem right, then it usually isn't. Your health is the number one area of concern and should not be compromised at any cost or saving!

Jem Mosley writes from the UK from a website of Harley Street Doctors to find out more you can follow him on Twitter now at @writerjem.

editor's note: This article is not meant as medical advice. Rather it's an introduction to the subject. Anyone considering any medical treatment, either in the US or abroad, needs to seek competent medical advice. Your health is always more important than saving money.

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