Medical tourism is becoming more and more popular – That’s a fact. In 2014, more than 52 000 Canadians travelled abroad to receive medical treatment. That’s an increase of 26% compared to the previous year, according to a report from the Fraser Institute published in March 2015.
But do you actually know what medical tourism is and how it works? Many Canadians at best have a vague idea. In the lines below we will give you a brief background and the top 7 reasons for being a part of this movement which could help you, a member of your family or a friend one day.
Medical tourism – also known as health tourism or global healthcare – can be defined as the process of travelling outside the country of residence for the purpose of receiving medical care. What really puts the word “tourism” in the whole concept is that people often stay in the foreign country after their procedure. You have to agree, after all, recovering near a sunny beach in Latin America or in beautiful Europe seems like a good idea. Beyond the travelling part, medical tourism combines several assets:
No wait times
As a medical tourist you have access to immediate services. You do not have to deal with the extreme wait times we all know (e.g. 2 years average for a knee replacement, 5 years for a bariatric procedure). This is probably the essence of medical tourism, as it allows you to go back to normal, back to work quickly. At best, you can live your life without limitations or medications again.
Savings of up to 80%
Compared to North America you can have great savings depending on the destination you choose. Finally you can afford necessary procedures that are not covered, only partially covered, or simply too expensive in Canada and the US (e.g. dental care, treatments by specialists, cosmetic surgeries).
An access to procedures not available at home
In November 2015, CBCnews told the story of a British Columbian man who required a brain surgery but couldn’t do it in Canada. He managed to book his procedure in the USA. But you don’t always need to go the United States to have access to a special treatment. As an example, Costa Rica offers procedures not available in Canada for Type 2 diabetes reversal.
The participating facilities are hospitals that meet or even exceed the North American standards and choose to be accredited with JCI (Joint Commission International), Accreditation Canada, or ISO. They use the latest and greatest technology and their surgeons and medical staff have usually received their degree or a training in the US or Europe – You are in good hands.
Traveling abroad for a procedure in a country not considered as developed as yours may sound surprising? However, the extreme majority of medical tourists report having had an experience far beyond their expectations. In addition, the staff at destination often speaks English and the nurse per patient ratio is usually lower than in the US or in Canada. You can read or watch the testimonials online and you will see yourself.
Some local agencies called “medical tourism facilitators” offer their services to organize everything for you with packages including your flight, round trips, procedures, hospital stay, rehab, translation, case management, coordination with your family physician, follow up, and insurance. This full service brings you a sense of peace and is often cheaper and especially safer than doing things on your own.
Precious time abroad
Of course, the first purpose of the trip is the medical aspect. However, about 70% of the medical tourists travel with a member of their family and therefor use this excellent opportunity to visit exotic destinations like Costa Rica and have a relaxing time with their beloved ones. And what can be more beneficial to your recovery than spending time in a luxury rehab center and, with the agreement of your surgeon, engage in some tourism activities?