*DISCLAIMER: The following questions and answers are provided for general information only and may not be completely accurate in every circumstance. This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.
What is medical tourism?
Medical tourism is simply the process of traveling abroad to a specific destination to obtain certain medical procedures. Medical tourism is certainly not a new concept. Canadians and Europeans have been traveling outside their regions for years to obtain medical procedures due the long waiting periods associated with socialized medicine. The global elite have been traveling to the US for years as well to the world renowned hospitals, such as Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and MD Anderson. Now US citizens have an excellent opportunity to seek top quality procedures outside the US, where they can recover in anonymity at more affordable rates.
Who are medical tourists?
Medical tourists are generally residents of the industrialized nations of the world and primarily originate from The United States, Canada, Great Britain, Western Europe, Australia, and The Middle East. But more and more, people from many other countries of the world are seeking out places where they can obtain their medical care at an affordable cost.
What kind of healthcare do medical tourists obtain?
A myriad of options exist for medical tourists – from purely elective procedures such as face lifts, liposuction, tummy tucks, breast augmentation, dental crowns, and LASIK, to more serious procedures such as joint replacements, spinal disc replacements, hysterectomies, and cardiac bypass surgery – medical tourists can now obtain many types of medical or surgical procedure abroad in a safe and effective manner for a fraction of the cost that they would face in their home countries.
Why should I consider medical or surgical procedures outside the US?
The cost of the medical procedures in Mexico is generally 30 to 80 percent less expensive than the same procedures in the US. This cost differential enables you the opportunity to have a vacation, recover in a 4 to 5 star resort in complete anonymity, and then return home having spent less than the procedure alone in the US.
What happens if something goes wrong?
A legitimate concern that most people have when considering medical care abroad is legal recourse in the event that something goes wrong. To date no formal legal framework has been established to protect international patents while receiving medical care outside the U.S. If this is an overriding concern to you, then you should perhaps consider remaining in the U.S. for your medical procedure. In the unlikely event that some medical malpractice error does occur, it would be very unrealistic to expect any financial recourse in a foreign jurisdiction.
However, it is important to understand that international patients still have tremendous leverage in insuring the best possible outcomes. This leverage is the international brand image of any hospital seeking to attract foreign patients. They fully understand that one mistake with an international patient could potentially end up on CNN Headline news the next day. Such negative publicity would certainly be a detrimental blow to their international patient flow for some time. Since these hospitals have invested vast resources in cultivating their global brand image, they have a huge incentive to insure that you are safe and satisfied during every phase of your medical retreat. Of course there are still no guarantees when undergoing surgery, but that goes for your local hospital down the street from you as well.
Is cost the most important factor that I should consider?
Absolutely not, however, cost is always an important factor to consider when seeking medical care. If you work with Medical Link Travel, we will assist you in finding the facilities and doctors that will be much less expensive than in the US. However, we do not encourage you to travel abroad for surgery because it is cheaper. Surgery is a risky procedure, regardless where it is performed and should be taken very seriously and discussed with your family and other professionals. If you are serious about a surgery abroad, we can inform you about where you will find the best hospitals and doctors to perform your surgical procedure and save money.
What is the typical cost difference of medical procedures abroad?
The difference in price depends upon the medical procedure you choose. In reviewing the cost of many procedures in the US, versus the same ones performed in our destination, costs are typically 50-80% lower abroad. The greatest cost savings is typically found in cardiac procedures (75-90% lower fees outside of the United States). If you have received quotes in the US for $10,000, you can expect the same procedure to cost between $2,000 and $5,000. This significant cost reduction enables you purchase a round trip air ticket, recover in a 5 star resort, buy a new wardrobe, and return home saving money.
Why is medical care so much cheaper in certain countries?
Although many countries have imitated our world-renowned health care system in terms of quality and technology, they have not adopted our legal system completely. Doctors in the US are required to pay medical malpractice insurance that usually cost over $100,000 annually. Foreign doctors are required to pay medical malpractice insurance as well, but their costs are as low as $4000 annually. In addition to this insurance, certain economies are at different stages of development than the US. This absolutely does not mean that their healthcare technologies and institutions are behind the US. In fact, most of the private hospitals use exactly the same equipment and instruments as the most advanced hospitals in the US.
Here are some other reasons why the costs are less overseas:
- Lower cost of labor
- Lower real estate values
- Lower construction costs (to build hospitals)
- Favorable exchange rates
- Lower government taxes
- No accounts receivable collections issues with medical tourism patients (cash/credit card payment before release from hospital)
- No emergency room bad debt
- Less administrative paper shuffling
- Less bureaucracy/red tape
- Cheaper medical supplies/equipment/medications
How can I trust the quality of the foreign doctors?
To begin with, one of our key service offerings to you is to provide all the information to you about the doctors in order for you to make the most educated decision possible. We will provide you with resumes and facilitate phone conversations or even video conferences. If you are still not comfortable, we will work to provide you with the information about the doctors that is important to you.
How can I correspond with a doctor in a foreign country?
As part of our medical tourism service, we will help facilitate the initial consultation between you and the doctor. Additional correspondence before traveling can be conducted via phone, email, and/or video-conference. For cosmetic surgery, the doctors will want to see images of the designated regions for surgery. These images can easily be sent via email to protect your anonymity.
Are the hospitals safe?
We will do all that we can to insure that you are comfortable with the hospitals that you review. A large part of our value to you is that we have visited these facilities personally and can attest to their standards of hygiene, modernity and use of technology. Additionally, even though the hospitals in our network have accreditation from their government and non-government entities, we will continue to work with the executive management teams of the foreign hospitals in our network to seek accreditation from the Joint Commission International.
Can you select or advise which doctors and/or hospitals to visit?
Our sole purpose is to provide you with the necessary tools and information to make an informed and educated choice about medical tourism options. We absolutely will not encourage, advise, advocate or underwrite any of the doctors or healthcare facilities in our network. The choice is completely up to you. We will facilitate your research and provide answers to multitude of questions that you may have.
What if I don’t find the procedure that I am interest in on your website?
If you are interested in or require a certain procedure that is not listed on our website, please contact us so that we may assist you in your search.
What if my family doctor advises against a medical procedure abroad?
Such advice is certainly to be expected. Rest assured that the US is not the only country that has rigorous healthcare standards and strong patient rights. If fact, you may be surprised to learn that your local hospital has lost accreditation due to poor quality standards.
How can it be safe to travel so far after a surgical procedure?
Your travel plans will be entirely dictated by the surgical procedure you select. Once you select a procedure, we will inform you about the recommended recuperation time required before return travel.
Why should I work with a medical tourism service agency?
You don’t have to work with a medical tourism service agency. You can contact an overseas hospital directly, schedule your appointments, and book all your arrangements on your own. Many people have done this. However, if you work with a reputable service agency, they have taken care of all the guesswork for you. They have personally inspected all of their affiliate hospitals, met the doctors, and have established strong relationships with their affiliates. They will have a direct connection to all the administrators of your hospital. Equally important, they will have many past clients that have had your procedure, whom they can refer you to speak about their experience with the destination, the doctor, the hospital, and even the hotel. Pages could be written about the value of working with a service agency, versus attempting to manage the process on your own.
Can I speak with a past client about their experience?
Absolutely. Once you decide to move forward with Medical Link Travel, we will be happy refer you to past clients that have had the procedure that you are seeking. In return, we will appreciate your referrals once you return from your medical retreat. This being said, we totally respect the privacy of all our clients and will only assign referrals to those that give permission to do so.
How long will I have to remain in the destination after my procedure?
It depends on your selected procedure. In most cases the required length of stay in your destination will be between 1 and 3 weeks (it could be less o more). Your surgeon will advise you on the length of stay in the hospital and hotel in your initial pre-travel quotation.
What if I need to make changes to my itinerary when I am already abroad?
No problem. If you need to make any changes to your medical retreat itinerary, your Program Manager will take care of all the work for you. They will revise your flight itinerary, as well as your hotel stay. They will even contact family and friends back in the USA to inform them of your changes.
What are your hours of operations?
Our Program Managers are available 24/7 to serve you. They sleep with their cell phones so that they are in constant contact with you. You will never have to worry about being abroad and not being able to contact us for assistance.
How can I contact Medical Link Travel while am I abroad?
Prior to you departure from the US, you will be given contact numbers.
If I bring a relative or friend, will there be an additional charge?
We encourage our clients to bring a companion along with them. They can stay in the same hotel room at no additional charge. In fact, many of our hotel affiliates offer large buffet breakfast for two. The only extra expense that your companion will incur will be the cost of the flight, meals, and other travel essentials.
Can I book my own hotel stay?
Yes. You can arrange your own hotel stay. However, we strongly recommend that you stay in one of our affiliate hotels. The simple reason is our concern for your safety. We have personally selected our affiliate hotels based upon their proximity to the hospitals, reputation for customer service, safety, amenities, and convenience. If you’re not familiar with the destination, you could select a hotel that is less expensive than our affiliate partners, but may be in an unsafe area or have poor customer service.