Frequently Asked Questions
What is Medical Travel, Medical Tourism, or Health Travel?
Medical Travel is becoming an alternative to high priced treatment in the United States. People desirous of medical care travel to foreign countries to receive non-emergency care at hospitals that meet the same acrediting standards as hospitals in the United States. An American patient can travel, with a companion, to countries around the world, and receive care that would normally be cost prohibitive in the United States.
What kind of treatments can I get in foreign hospitals?
Around the world doctors, many of them schooled, and trained in the United States, are performing procedures in a great many areas. Procedures include everything from dentistry, to the most advanced cancer treatment. Some hospitals specialize in certain treatments and procedures. A more comprehensive list willl be available on the Treatments Page shortly.
How much less expensive is treatment abroad?
Price will vary by treatment. As a general rule, one can expect to save between 50 and 90 percent of comparable procedures in the United States. As an example, the most expensive surgery in the United States is Bone Marrow Transplant. It typically will cost $700,000. In foreign hospitals it is closer to $100,000. There are many companies dedicated to helping you find the right doctor at the right price. They are known as Medical Travel Facilitators or Health Travel Advocates.
What is a Health Travel Advocate?
Medical Travel Facilitators are companies that help you make informed health care decisions. They work like this:
Example: Lets say you need a hip replacement, and it is going to cost you $50,000. If you have health insurance, you would pay your deductible and co-pay and have the surgery in the United States. You can still go overseas for the surgery, but your insurance provider may or may not pay for it. When you contact a Facilitator, they typically will get your medical records from your doctor and send them to doctors overseas who will review the diagnosis. They may agree with the doctors in the United Sates, or they may not. In either case, the foreign doctors may or may not accept your case. If they accept your case, they will contact your health facilitator with a time frame and hard dollar price. Once the facilitator has this information, they will hand the information back to you and your doctor where you can make the decision to go ahead or not.
One thing that some facilitators will do is negotiate with your health insurance provider to waive your deductible and co-payments. Some insurance companies will do this and others will not. Usually they will look at each case individually.
If you and your doctor decide traveling for the surgery, the facilitator will line up your flights, hospital stays, follow up and rehab, and lodging for your companion.
What happens if something goes wrong with my surgery?
Any surgery is risky. No matter where a surgery is done, there is always a risk of unforseen problems. However, one can mitigate the risk associated with any surgery through the use of insurance. Medical Facilitators can also help you mitigate the risk of an undesirable outcome by referring you to an insurance company that will provide an insurance policy to cover your surgery.
How do I choose a Medical Travel Facilitator?
Choosing the right Medical Travel Facilitation company is extremely important. Specifically you should look for the ways in which these companies signal to consumers that they are legitimate. The Medical Tourism Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing unbiased information to raise awareness and promote transparency in the health travel industry. Facilitators should be members in good standing. A good medical travel facilitator will also assign a case manager to work with you, your doctor and your insurance company, as well as the hospital and doctor you will visit. Your facilitator should have a good relationship with the doctors and hospital you may visit. You’ll want to know how many patients they’ve helped, how many of your type of surgery their doctors have performed and what is their success rate. You’ll want to be sure the hospital you choose is Joint Commission International (JCI) Accredited. JCI is the international sister organization that gives hospitals in the United States their accreditation. There are many technical factors that you should look at, and if you don’t know the questions to ask, a good facilitator will show you every facet of the process, and stay in contact with you and teh other parties concerned on a daily basis once your journey begins.
Probably the most important factor involved in choosing a Medical Travel Facilitator is their transparency. Will they provide references you can actually talk to? Will they connect you with your prospective doctor? Can you meet them personally? Do they have an actual (not virtual) office? What is their plane ride manner? The key here is trust. You must feel comfortable with your choice.