A comprehensive look at medical expenses that dominate medical tourism budgets

Medical treatment costs

Since you are traveling in pursuit of good healthcare services, the majority of the expenditure will include the cost of medical treatment. Medical treatment costs include the amount you will have to pay to the medical practitioner as his/her consultation fees, cost for diagnostic tests and additional expenditure for subsequent visits to the healthcare facility or to the practitioner, before the treatment is finalized. All these costs contribute directly to the total costs of the visit. These costs could be broken down into some major sections that are listed here.

  • Physician fees

 Couple of young doctors at the hospital

The most significant cost on any medical journey is the amount one has to pay the physician. The cost of the physician usually makes up a major percentage of the total medical bill that you have to pay and hence it requires careful planning. Usually, medical practitioners with more experience and better skills charge more. It includes their pre- and post-consultation charges, treatment charges, and charges for all procedures that are required during the treatment phase. These charges contribute significantly to the overall invoice that is shown to you after the successful completion of the treatment.

eye treatment

However, if the patient does develop any complications during or after the treatment, additional charges might also be included. This usually happens if you are going for a medical treatment that requires surgery. All reputed doctors will warn you about any possible complication that might come up during your treatment when you first approach the physician for consultation. As an example, a patient with diabetes will need special care and services that will stabilize his blood sugar before a cataract operation can be performed. Here the doctor will have no other choice but to monitor all vital parameters to ensure that the operation can be performed in a safe way.

Patients with other complications, complex history, or other diseases and illnesses require extra time and effort from the physician for which the patient has to pay. This results in the addition of extra charges to compensate the additional effort of the medical practitioner. In situations like this, where the treatment depends on previous medical history of a patient, it becomes difficult to stick to the original budget. It is advisable to share your medical history with the physician beforehand so that you can prepare your budget accordingly.

  • Anesthesiology fees

orthopedic operation

Anesthesia, as you might already know, is an essential medical requirement for all procedures that require surgery. At times, especially if you have chosen a package price for your medical treatment, the fees for the anesthesia are charged separately and are likely to be higher if a complex surgery is required during your treatment. In most cases, healthcare facilities make you pay additional fees to the anesthetist, which is independent of how much you are paying to your treating doctor. It is thus important for patients to find out these charges prepare an accurate estimate of the budget. Healthcare facilities usually recommend an anesthesiologist who is attached to the facility and hence they know the amount you will have to pay them.

The fee for anesthesiology generally includes the fees of the anesthetic and the administration of the drug. It can also include the cost for the special care that is required during the procedure and for post-operative care. Since anesthesia is critical during surgeries, you should select a hospital that has competent anesthetic facilities, qualified and reputed staff, and includes modern anesthesia equipment.

  • Surgical implants

Kind dentist

Medical tourists who require surgical implants will see them in the bill. Some surgeries require surgeons to install artificial devices, such as artificial pacemakers, which are quite expensive. Moreover, surgical implants are also required in certain cosmetic surgeries such as breast augmentation, where silicone inserts have to be surgically implanted. A medical tourist who is availing himself of such a procedure should inquire about the cost of these implants prior to the commencement of the procedure in order to prepare an accurate budget. It is very much possible that the implants cover the better portion of the bill.

  • Consumables

Consumables payment

The word consumable in medical terms refers to items that are non-reusable, and are used during the procedure. Examples of this include cotton, IV lines, gauze, sutures, gloves, etc. The cost of these consumables varies from facility to facility and on the type of procedure. If you are interested in preparing an accurate budget that includes the cost of consumables, you should inquire about the cost of consumables from the international patient department of the healthcare facility you are planning to visit.

  • Post treatment prescription drugs

Doctor recommending medicines to patient

Some treatments are finalized at the healthcare facility and you don’t require taking any prescription drugs after returning home. Most treatments however, will require that the patient take regular doses of medicines and prescription drugs after the completion of the medical treatment. Medical tourists should be aware of the fact that after all discharge procedures are completed, the hospital and the doctor would not be responsible for providing the prescribed drugs. In most procedures, the use of the drugs ceases after the patient has completely recovered, some patients may need to take regular medication for extended durations. Since patients have to bear these additional expenses, it is important that they understand the regular cost of drugs that they will have to pay after their treatment is complete.

  • Lab and imaging fees


The lab and imaging fees varies according to the medical conditions for which you are seeking treatment. It includes the cost associated with the number of lab tests that are required before and after the treatment. The treating doctor usually prescribes these tests and the hospital will charge additional fees for the various tests that are conducted during the course of your treatment. However, if the healthcare facility is not fully equipped to carry out all tests, they may recommend facilities where you have to get some tests done. You might have to pay these facilities separately. Tests such as X-rays, MRIs, CT scans and blood tests are the most common tests, which have to be conducted during the pre- and post-operative treatments.

  • Blood transfusion fees (if required)

Medical laboratory

During surgery or other unavoidable situations, when a patient loses a lot of blood, a doctor might advise a blood transfusion. This is usually done if the patient loses an uncontrollable amount of blood, which could potentially be fatal.

The blood transfusion procedure is usually a lifesaver in such circumstances. The patient has to pay for the blood bags and the special care that was needed during the treatment. This cost is separate from the otherwise agreed-upon medical expenses, since the need for it arises only during an emergency, which are near impossible to predict.

  • Operation theatre charges

Surgeons operating patient in operation theater

For procedures that have to be carried on within the safe and equipped confines of an operation theater, additional expenses are charged as operation theater charges. Due to the various resources that are utilized within an operation theater, which include the monitoring tools, surgical equipment, additional surgeons and nurses, the cost may figure prominently in the bill.

  • Intensive Care Unit charges (if required)

Intensive Care Unit charges

After a procedure has been carried out, the physician might recommend shifting the patient to an ICU or Intensive Care Unit, where the patient will be kept in special care. An ICU environment allows doctors and nurses to give critical care and closely monitor the condition of the patient until the patient stabilizes. In an ICU, multiple nurses and healthcare professionals tend to the patient so that he/she can be quickly restored back to health.

The need for an ICU can rarely be predicted in advance, as it mostly arises due to complications which cannot be predicted either. Hence, these charges cannot be budgeted in advance. However, if you require medical services for a complicated medical condition, it is a good idea to ask about the price of the ICU services that are charged, just to gauge the possible addition to your medical bill.

  • Treatments

Treatment OF LADY

Different patients have different medical conditions when they enter the hospital premises. While some of them might be in a good condition, others are serious and require immediate attention. Treatment needs vary according to the condition of a patient when he/she reaches the healthcare facility and hence, the cost of treatment differs too. In some cases, a combination of treatments would be recommended, which will involve multiple skilled medical personnel and a large number of auxiliary services, such as nurses and lab attendants. If the patient’s condition is critical, doctors might advise hiring a full time nurse, which costs more.

  • Recovery

recovery period

After the successful completion of the treatment or procedure, patients are not normally allowed to go back home immediately. Rather, patients are kept under surveillance during the recovery period. A proper recovery pattern ensures that the doctors can keep an eye on the patient, so that they can keep tabs on the patient’s recovery. A well managed recovery phase is essential for the patient to return to a normal healthy life at the earliest possible point. This is the reason why doctors recommend proper medical assistance during the first few days after the surgery or treatment has been completed. This too incurs some costs depending on the recovery period and the facilities that are used during the phase.

  • Hospital stay charges

Hospital stay charges

The hospital stay charges come into effect once you enter the hospital premises and are calculated to the date you are discharged. Patients need to pay for all the services and facilities they use during their stay. It includes the cost of the hospital rooms and the bed they occupy during the course of the treatment. Hospitals usually have several types of rooms, such as, single room, isolated wings, double bed rooms, dormitories, etc. The choice of room depends on your budget. Single rooms are usually the most expensive rooms, where, apart from good healthcare services, you will have access to several amenities such as a television, entertainment options, and en-suite bathrooms. On the other hand, dormitories are the least expensive, and here you will have to share the hall with several other patients.

  • Use of nursing services


In addition to healthcare professionals such as doctors, a patient definitely needs several auxiliary services, such as the ones provided by the nursing staff. Nurses come in very handy during the treatment phase as they provide full time care to the patient when the physician is not around. Apart from tending to a patient’s daily needs, nurses constantly keep in touch with the doctors and monitor the patient’s health regularly. Thus, patients have to pay for their services additionally.

  • Rehabilitation or physical therapy charges (if required)

physical therapy charges

Certain surgical procedures such as hip-replacement surgery or knee surgery require that the patient spend some time in rehabilitation after the surgery is complete. A physical therapist is employed to check the patient’s mobility while in rehabilitation. The physical therapist will dedicate his time to bringing back normal mobility after the surgery, by using special exercising techniques and equipment. The fees payable to the physical therapist will not necessarily be added in your hospital stay charges. It you are planning to undergo a surgery that requires you to spend additional time with the physical therapist, it would be great if you can calculate their charges and prepare your budget accordingly.

  • Hospital meals

Hospital meals

The hospital room charges do not include the meals that are served to patients during their stay, and are often billed separately. Medical procedures require patients to adhere to a strict diet plan prepared by dieticians and nutritionists. Apart from the fee that has to be paid to the dieticians, the hospital staff will also add the cost of the meals to the total bill that has to be paid by you.

  • Follow-up care in home country

 Follow-up care

There is no denying the fact that follow-up care after a surgical treatment is just as vital as the treatment. It is wise to have a clear picture of the entire treatment to find out the type of follow-up care that you will require. Many surgical procedures require expensive follow-up treatment and hence, it is vital for you to know the type of expenses you will have to bear. Get in touch with the physician to understand the procedures that you will have to undergo in your medical tourism destination and the ones that you will have to go through after you return to your home country.

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Dr Prem Jagyasi and Team (C)

Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.

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