Once a patient is mentally prepared to travel for treatment, there are several acceptable methods of payment. The options include the use of personal savings, taking out insurance, medical expenses paid for by your company, loans from banks, relatives, credit cards or if you are lucky as in the case of Arab patients, you can ask your government to pay for your expenses. Some hospitals and clinics offer flexible payment options in the form of instalments to pay your entire medical bill. This chapter provides you with information about the various options you can use to pay for medical tourism expenses.
Each and every patient will have a unique, preferred way to pay for their medical journey based on their abilities and condition. Usually, the safest method of paying for medical tourism is by utilizing your own resources rather than depending on an outside agency which could potentially cause significant additional expenses and problems in the long run. However, since cost-savings is one of the prime reasons people travel abroad it might not be possible to pay out of pocket, hence it is important to look into external resources as well.
Patients using their savings account to pay for medical travel
Most middle class people save money for medical expenses anyway. It is a fundamental need for every member of the family. Whether a person is self- employed, a businessman or working for a company, the options that can be adopted for medical treatments should follow a safety protocol that ensures finances are in order and do not dry up in the middle of your medical travel.
Aside from cosmetic surgeries or dental implants, many women even travel abroad for pregnancy-related care. Your savings accounts are a form of insurance or fixed deposits in banks. Liquidate your savings as health is far more important than wealth. Jewelry and other assets can always be acquired again later. But the body will not heal again.
Patients asking their relatives for help to pay for medical travel
Ideally this option works best if the patient is travelling to a place where there are relatives. You could have them make the payments locally and possibly incur reduced charges. In any case foreigners are charged more when they pay in other currencies. Hence local expenses work better. Maybe an arrangement can be made well in advance. This cuts the tension and embarrassment which may arise if there is any non-payment of dues following the treatment.
Most patients will be surprised at the kind of support that they can get from family and friends when they have any medical emergency. In fact some cancer patients have been able to raise funds for treatments through the kind emails and text messages sent out by well-meaning friends and even strangers. But to expect that, would be going too far! Even if they do not have the capacity to pay or pitch in for the medical treatment, they might be able to get discounts or reductions in certain aspects of your travel—for example, they might be able to secure reduced rates at hotels in your destination, or they might be able to use their air miles to help fund your airline ticket.
Remember, every drop makes an ocean—so use as many drops to get back to normal health; seeking help from friends and relatives for your medical condition will be well accepted in many scenarios.
Asking insurance to pay for medical travel
People should consider special medical tourism insurance while planning for overseas treatments. Insurance companies are starting to understand the cost-saving nature inherent in medical tourism, and have started including it in their policies. It is important for every medical tourist to check with their insurance provider if this is the case before assuming that medical tourism is covered under their insurance policy.
Asking employers to pay for medical travel
If you are employed by a reputed organization, and they cover healthcare expenses for you within country, there is a high chance that they will accept medical tourism as an alternative option if you present your case effectively. All employers are interested in saving money and also providing the best healthcare opportunities to their staff to ensure a swift and healthy recovery. To that effect, you may need to prepare a list of potential benefits for your employer should you wish to avail medical tourism at their expense.
Asking government to pay for medical travel
In case certain health services are not available in your country, and you need to travel overseas for care your government might sponsor your expenses, as in the case of the Gulf countries. GCC governments spent in excess of 2 billion (unaudited figures) on medical care abroad for their national patients, mainly because high-end care for complex procedures are not available within their country. In order to do so, you might need to prepare your case study with evidence indicating that such services are not available in your country. A local government hospital team can help you to identify the best international facility which might be associated with your government.
Taking a loan to pay for medical travel
There are many financial aid companies that provide loans for medical treatment abroad. This is an option that will attract interest. Hence the interest has to be calculated too. When the travel involves overseas treatments, the rates may be different. Search for options that charge lower interest rates. Also choose institutions that are affiliated to some organization. In case of disputes, one can fall back on some support system. Personal loans are ideal too.
Several financing organizations are including medical travel as valid reasons to apply for a loan. If you are able to demonstrate a good credit score or the ability to pay back your loan on time, most banks will be willing to lend you the money for your treatment. Search around for options and various interest rates to make sure the amount you pay back as interest will be the lowest possible.
Paying through credit cards for medical travel
This form of payment is used for many purposes. Ideally this can be used by the patient when there is a shortage during the treatment. Some things may not be included in the budget and it may stall the treatment. Swiping a credit card is convenient, abroad. One can always return home and pay up along with the international fees. You can also apply for a new credit line to avail of medical finances. There are some credit limits that should be taken care of. Most international organizations will accept credit card payments.
Using a healthcare tourism intermediaries to pay for medical travel
Considering that medical tourism has become a common concept there are various healthcare tourism intermediaries that take care of the financial aspects to help patients. There are special agencies or medical service providers that have made it possible for patients to avail of finances for treatments.
What is good about them is that they also search for the healthcare facilities for patients where they can receive good services at affordable costs. They especially look for places where American-style services are practiced so that the patients are satisfied overall. They have credit limits ranging from small to large amounts. It also depends on the medical procedure the patient is opting for. They have fewer interests, knowing full well that is health that ultimately matters. They can be accessed online and payments can also be made the same way. Normally they pay directly to the hospital from their funds. With whatever is left, the patient is allowed to fulfill other medical obligations.
Using special medical financing companies to pay for medical travel
Health is wealth and this is being realized more by finance companies worldwide. There are so many schemes available and none of them need health insurance cover. It is a boon for some patients who cannot have it any other way and still need the tummy tuck or cosmetic surgery or a nose job done abroad. The forms can be submitted online too.
There are several options in developing countries where special medical financing companies are already helping patients. There are flexible applying options that patients can choose from. They provide all the knowledge, experience and also helpful executives to assist patients. They provide easy medical finance solutions. The terms and conditions are affordable and private. Taking a loan from a medical debt aid program is an option for those who have no insurance policies or if employed don’t have benefits from their companies, if such programs are available within their country.
For example, Reliance Medical Finance is an example of a medical financing company. They provide the financial means for patients to avail elective procedures, such as cosmetic surgery. They have helped several customers that lack insurance and can’t afford the procedure through personal means but want to obtain the surgery of their dreams.
Cryptocurrency, the blockchain-enabled risk-free currency transaction procedure is a unique mode to pay for medical tourism. Credit cards carry the risk of exposing the private PIN and other details which may be misused for fraudulent transaction. Medical travelers can easily make the payment as these transactions are quite fast allowing quick settlement of bills.
Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency ensures your privacy and security in financial transactions. Another benefit of using cryptocurrency is that it is not bound by international currency fluctuations, interest rates and transaction charges of any country. But volatility of this virtual currency can be an issue which can affect your transaction amount. Cryptocurrency is at the nascent stage. It would take time before it becomes accessible to all.
Charity and support
Patients traveling from underdeveloped countries or those in a financial crunch can approach certain organizations to help with their medical expenses. Several NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) provide relief and assistance to medical travelers. The hospitals might also consider a discount to support patients through their MSW (Medical Social Work) department or similar programs.