Medical tourism offers healthy savings
Schult believes these issues can be worked out. "Doctors overseas will work with you to have the records transferred here. People think their American doctor will get mad at them when they find out. But you have to get over that. We have to be responsible for our own care," says Schult.
Before you travel to a foreign land, check out the CDC's Traveler's
Health site, which provides detailed information on vaccines you should get
before traveling; diseases often found in the area, things you should take with
you and how to stay healthy during your trip.
will handle currency conversion for you. You'll pay the agency in U.S. dollars
and they'll handle the rest. Many of them also have financing options available
if you need it. If you're going on your own, educate yourself about the exchange
rate in your destination country. A good place to start is Bankrate's
currency converter calculator, which converts U.S. dollars into the currency
of your selected country.
Don't assume you'll be able to write
personal checks or pay for services with your credit
card. Talk with your surgeon ahead of time so you'll know how much cash you
need to have with you. Then bring extra cash for emergencies.
future of medical tourism
Some experts expect medical tourism to
increase over the coming years.
- Self-insured corporations are expected
to take advantage of low-cost overseas health care for their employees. One of
the pioneers in this area, Blue Ridge Paper Co., of Canton, N.C., had planned
to send its first worker to get surgery in India, but the United Steelworkers
of America blocked it.
- Since this is an unregulated area, expect to see
some legislation designed to protect medical tourists.
- Schult predicts
medical tourism will grow from 15 percent to 20 percent a year as the baby boomer
generation continues to age and the desire for necessary and cosmetic medical
needs continues to grow.
- Some predict that major insurance carriers will
start covering individuals who are willing to go for lower-priced surgeries overseas
at accredited institutions.
This is a burgeoning field so expect to
see more newcomers. On many of these sites, you can do cost comparisons for various
procedures between the United States and different countries:
|Medical tourism agencies/services: |
Vernon Hills, Ill. |
Healthcare, Albuquerque, N.M.|
Tours International, New York|
resource for patients and industry providers|
& Safari, based in South Africa|
focuses on medical tourism to India|
MedTourism, Katy, Texas|
based in Canada, specializes in cosmetic surgery in Argentina|
Services International, Inc., offices in the United States and London|
a concierge service that focuses on Brazil|