5 Medical Tourism Myths You Shouldn’t Believe
Approximately 1.4 million Americans traveled outside the U.S. for medical care in 2016, with the top destinations being Costa Rica, India, Israel, and Malaysia. But the rising popularity of medical tourism does not necessarily constitute understanding and acceptance. There is still a lot of misinformation, misconceptions, and blatant mistruths out there.
Traveling overseas for medical care is an important decision to make, which is why it must be based on extensive and thorough research. Part of this process is identifying and busting myths surrounding the medical tourism industry.
1. Treatment overseas is always cheaper.
In recent studies, patients have expressed their desire for achieving the best possible outcome at a price that they feel comfortable with, but this does not always equate to cheap or cheaper. Quicker access to care, better facilities, a greater variety of treatment options, and cost are all key factors when considering treatment abroad.
2. Foreign doctors aren’t as qualified as US doctors.
Interestingly, the U.S. only had 2 hospitals listed in the top 10 in 2017 with the best medical facility being located in India followed by hospitals in Thailand and Mexico. Typically people would associate these 3 countries with cheap, low-quality care and may even consider medical travel to these destinations to be “unsafe”.
Many doctors and medical staff abroad are in fact educated at some of the best universities in the United States and Europe and go back to improve the quality of healthcare in their home countries. The comprehensive and culturally diverse education that they receive not only equips them with some of the best hands-on experience but also gives them a more innovative and open-minded approach to treating illness and disease. And ironically, more than 25% of practicing doctors in the U.S. are from foreign countries!
While we don’t recommend judging the ability of a doctor based on his/her nationality or country of practice, we do recommend that you check the credentials of your overseas physician or go through a reputable medical tourism agent who does the groundwork for you.
3. Medical travel is always international.
The truth is, if you can afford the top private doctors at the best U.S. hospitals, you won’t need to travel abroad. But even regular patients in the U.S. can benefit from traveling out of state to receive better care in a specialty facility, with some public hospitals offering a standard of care comparable to many medical tourism destinations in other countries.
Domestic medical tourism is very popular in China, Russia, and India, and it’s a growing trend in the U.S. as it can reduce the expenses associated with travel, limit cultural and language barriers, and minimize travel time and jet lag.
4. Facilities abroad offer sub-standard care and equipment.
Most medical tourism hospitals and facilities are actually privately owned and have access to some of the most advanced and modern medical equipment. This allows them to offer state of the art treatments that regular, government-funded hospitals can only dream of. It also means that they are able to attract a wider patient audience by offering superior patient care and niche healthcare solutions.
Many of these hospitals and medical centers go above and beyond to ensure that they meet international standards by obtaining certifications like Joint Commission International (JCI) and International Standards Organization (ISO). Additionally, some countries even implement their own elite criteria in an effort to reassure potential patients about the premium medical facilities that they can expect in their country, such as the Indian Healthcare Federation.
5. Medical tourism is like a holiday, but you come back thinner and more beautiful.
While elective procedures like cosmetic surgery remain the most popular form of international treatment, emergency surgeries, experimental treatments, and alternative therapies are also highly sought after. Many patients in the UK travel to neighboring countries like France to avoid long waiting lists for critical procedures like heart surgery and many US citizens love exploring the potential of Ayurvedic healing for addiction in South America or the Far East.
Regardless of the procedure, treatment, or surgery, medical tourism is almost never a holiday and can involve extensive rehabilitation and long-term follow up care.
The bottom line.
Don’t be foolish. If you’re seriously considering medical tourism, we highly recommend that you do your own independent research and gain second opinions. Check credentials. Use reputable providers. Trust your gut. Medical tourism offers unique opportunities and has the potential to transform your health and life. Reach out to one of our consultants to help you find the best quality, niche treatment tailored to your individual needs.