Since the cost of medicine in other countries is so low, millions of people go abroad every year to get all types of procedures. This is known as medical tourism, and during the last years, in the United States alone, more than 1.5 million people used to go abroad in search of more affordable treatments, according to some official statistics.
Benefits of medical tourism
Couples who search for fertility treatments make no exception, and so-called reproductive tourism has also grown over the decades. In 2010, for instance, it was forecasted that between 20,000 and 25,000 couples were receiving in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments in other countries.
In essence, the idea of getting a medical service in a foreign country, one that the patients doesn’t even know about, may appear intimidating. Even though it is not an easy call, there are hundreds of certified organizations that offer high-quality medical services, at the moment.
And they are either comparable to the institutions in developed countries or even exceed those.
It is cheaper
In some countries, such as the United States, the costs for health services are increasing more and more every day. That reduces patient’s access to more costly interventions.
Moreover, many patients lack health insurance, and such a situation would force them to seek health services in accordance with their budget. Those are offered at lower prices in other countries.
In addition to the affordable cost, adequate access is required according to their medical requirements. Accordingly, medical tourism becomes the only solution for some patients. Even more, in some countries, medical services might be better.
Treatments available to everyone
The laws and restrictions of several countries are an essential factor in opting for medical tourism as the solution. That can happen because the legislation of those countries doesn’t accept specific treatments or the availability and waiting times are not very permissive, many patients prefer or have no other solution than to travel abroad in search of adequate treatment.
Let’s take in vitro fertilization, for instance. In some occasions, the issue of the regulation is not just regarding the treatment but also the donors. In most countries around the world, including those states that offer in vitro fertilization, it is not legal to offer information about donors.
This is not the case in Mexico, where such info is available to those who ask and want to know more about the egg or sperm donors.
The quality of the medical services
That is based both on quality, through accreditation and higher standards, and on access to limited or restricted treatments in the country of origin, as we’ve said above. Since this is an aspect in which, in terms of health, all patients deserve quality medical care and a great experience.
Accreditation allow the birth of a bond of trust between the medical service provider and the patient. That plays a critical role in the decisional process.
Even more, some countries offer specific treatments for certain diseases, which cannot be found nowhere else in the world. The quality of the medical services, as well as of the procedures in those countries outperform those in the patient’s state of residence.
Who benefits from medical tourism
Patients are the consumers with specific needs for medical services abroad. They may have limited insurance or lack one, this being one reason why they opt for medical tourism, in addition to others.
Specifically, the most common medical tourism cases regard procedures such as aesthetic, dental, dermatological, cardiological, cancer treatment, sex change, and a few others. In medical tourism, most patients come from the United States.
As medical tourism is increasingly growing, insurance companies earn money by NOT offering such policies. The interest of these firms in medical tourism is low due to the lucrative business they have through the high premiums they charge.
These premiums cause many people to go into debt. But the problem goes beyond that.
The insurance companies come up with policies without adequate coverage for patients’ needs, so the expense is high, and they are not up to treating their health problems. Accordingly, if insured patients opt for medical tourism, they will do that on their own money.
Medical service units
Medical tourism helps medical service units in many countries around the world increase their revenues. If the units offer high-quality services, more and more patients would come.
Medical tourism grows in popularity. That’s why this industry will become more and more common among patients who seek cheaper, higher quality, and more enjoyable medical experience.
Not to mention that medical tourism is also about tourism, so patients will also have the chance to visit foreign countries while they get their treatments.