Medical Tourism

Medical tourism is becoming a more common reason for Americans to travel abroad. Although the term 'tourism' suggests leisure travel, medical tourists are traveling abroad to receive elective medical and cosmetic surgeries. Additional medical treatments are sure to be offered in the coming years. The motivation for medical travel is because medical care abroad can be provided at a fraction of the cost of care here at home. If the quality of care can be assured, then each year we will see an increased volume of medical tourists.

Travel vaccines Before You Travel

Do your homework. Make sure that the facility and the physicians who will be caring for you are high caliber. Find out if the institution has been accredited by international accrediting organizations. Request references and contact them. If you are having surgery, then you are entitled to know where the surgeon trained and his qualifications to perform the desired operation. If you are having a heart bypass operation, for example, verify that this physician operates on a high volume of bypass patients every year, so that his skills are sharp. What is the surgeon's complication rate? Is the facility a teaching hospital? Will physicians-in training be participating in your care? While you may be agreeable to this, it is best to know this in advance. In addition, if you have other active medical issues, you will want to ensure that there are well trained specialists available. Remember, the post-op care and treatment are more important than what occurs in the operating room.

Do your due diligence methodically. It will take more time and research to arrange for foreign medical care than it would for medical treatment here. We take it for granted here that transfused blood is safe and that surgical instruments are sterile. Hepatitis B vaccine, required of physicians here, may not be standard practice abroad.

Travel vaccines Get Travel Vaccinations

Just like any international traveler, you, and those accompanying you, are at risk for a host of infectious diseases. Depending upon your destination, these may include Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Malaria, Japanese Encephalitis, Yellow Fever and Typhoid
  • Schedule an appointment with a Travel Clinics of America physician as soon as your medical plans are finalized. The travel physician will update your routine immunizations (shots) Additional Recommended Travel Vaccinations will depend on your age, health status, destination, itinerary and length of stay. Yellow Fever vaccine, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccines (available individually or together as Twinrix), typhoid, and Japanese Encephalitis are some of the vaccines that may be recommended, depending upon your destination.
  • If you are traveling to a malaria-endemic area, you will need prophylactic medication.
  • Family and others traveling with you may need vaccinations also.
  • You will be advised on making safe food and beverage choices to minimize the risk of traveler's diarrhea.

Travel vaccines During the Flight

Medical tourists may be taking long plane rides. In addition to jet lag, air travelers are at risk for developing serious blood clots. Here are some tips to prevent them.

Travel vaccines Medical Tourist Caveats!

  • Make sure that you know your financial obligations in advance. If you develop medical complications, is cost of this treatment included in the original fee? When is payment for your care required? You might be wary to pay in advance for obvious reasons. The institution may unwilling to bill you later, as it would be challenging for them to collect a bill when you are thousands of miles away. You may be able to negotiate this issue.
  • If you develop a medical complication after returning home, who pays for the treatment?
  • You may be eligible for coverage from you insurance company who will be delighted with the prospect of cost saving.
  • Can your visitors be accommodated near the hospital?
  • Can you change physicians at any point during your care at your request?
  • You will be more comfortable if the medical personnel have a good command of English.
  • You may have very limited legal recourse against medical negligence.
  • Consider purchasing medical evacuation insurance, just in case you or your family want you urgently brought home for continued medical care.
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