Every year more and more US-Americans are exploring Health Travel or Medical Travel (also called Medical Tourism) as an option to get affordable access to urgently required medical procedures or cosmetic treatments. However, Health Travel is not the holy grail and there are several common health travel problems. Fortunately, there are also solutions to these problems if one is proactive and takes the necessary steps to prevent them.
The first solution to the language barrier is to use medical practitioners who speak your language. Global medical tourism has exploded in India, Colombia, Mexico, Thailand and several other nations. Traveling to a nation in which medical providers speak your language prevents the language gap.
Another choice is to hire a translator. However, it is critical to use a translator who is familiar with medical terminology as well as local jargon. You cannot afford to misunderstand medical instructions or reports of symptoms.
As good as a translator can be, he or she can never replace a doctor who speaks your language and is actully able to ignite your trust into the doctor-patient relationship.
Healthcare has been going global in a push for cheaper care. Yet patients need to be careful about the quality of care they receive. This can be done through a vetting of the medical credentials of those performing the medical care. Preference should be given to medical practitioners whose training and credentials were received in the West or are recognized as equal to those in the West.
Consult with your health insurance company before assuming care abroad will be covered. If traveling overseas, consider getting health insurance for travelers that will cover emergencies in that nation. If seeking care abroad because you cannot get timely care in your own nation, find out if the national health insurance program will cover the medical costs of service abroad.
Travel to cheaper locations for medical care ranges from three hours from the USA to Colombia to a full day from the USA to India (consider the drastic time zone change). The cheaper cost of global healthcare is partially offset by the cost to travel to other nations. To have a fair comparison you should always ask for TCOT (Total Cost of Treatment), which includes travel and accomodation, whether it’s abroad or in the next big city.
Travel also adds additional risks for patients. Patients should not travel long distance when facing serious health challenges. Global healthcare works best for elective procedures and those that improve quality of life but do not risk the patientís life to delay. Medium risk procedures like knee replacements, gastric bypass and cosmetic surgery or low risk fertility treatments are examples of this type of beneficial and expensive procedure that can be scheduled and handled overseas.
Procedures such as coronary bypass surgery should only be done when there is no risk of someone having a heart attack while traveling to the overseas location. First rate aftercare and close monitoring after the surgery at the same location where the medical procedure was performed also reduce the risk to patients. By ensuring the patient is stable and safe to travel, the risk of traveling home is eliminated.
Select health care providers who allow aftercare in addition to any procedures they perform. For example, do not use a healthcare provider that only performs a surgery and sends you back to a hotel room. Select a healthcare provider who either covers several days of supervised recovery or releases you to a resort that monitors your recovery while you enjoy recreational activities or a spa-like setting. Ensure that seeking private care abroad will not disqualify you for medical care and monitoring upon returning home.