People are crossing borders to seek healthcare services in another country and this international phenomenon is termed as medical tourism. It is attaining popularity among urban and sub-urban residents of developed countries. Every new thing is questioned or doubted and it is happening with medical tourism. It is also being analyzed and criticized. There are specific advantages and disadvantages of medical tourism and one has to see whether the former outweighs the latter or not.
Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of medical tourism
Advantages of Medical Tourism
As it is the best way to save money along with treatment. It has several advantages and some of them are as follows:
- The most well known advantage of medical tourism is definitely the fact that it can be attained at lower prices. Treatment costs have risen so much that complicated surgeries cost more than travel, treatment and accommodation.
- Empowers patients in decision making. While analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of medical tourism, this stands as one of the strong advantages. Instead of letting one’s healthcare at the mercy of inadequate services, people can seek for better treatment options beyond the border.
- Traveling lets the patients choose the nursing homes and country where they would like to travel. Saving money is crucial for people because of unstable financial circumstances. Many surgeries and treatments do not fall under common medical insurance.
- People prefer medical tourism because breaking your bank accounts and savings for surgeries can put you in a severe financial crunch.
- People get an instant medical treatment in medical tourism with no delay. The postoperative care is also taken care of in some hospitals. Getting to see a new country is also a great experience and patients get adequate privacy and can opt for alternative surgeries like fat reduction and butt enhancement.
- Medical tourism offers an opportunity to avail low risk treatments at a very low cost in specific destinations having tourism attractions as well. Dental tourism is one such popular offshoot of medical tourism
Disadvantages of Medical Tourism
Like other things medical tourism also have another side. It also has certain disadvantages and some of them are as follows:
- Main disadvantage of medical tourism is that the patient and their family members are not sure about the qualifications of the doctors. In most cases, patients are not aware of their tolerance levels and may invite secondary health problems. They have to venture in a new country credulous the medical tourism facilitators.
- The medical treatments offered by a facility may not be at par with the developed nations even if it declared so. Complications arising from botched surgical procedures and hospital acquired infections are quite common. Physicians back home may not entertain post medical tourism complications. Some cases may go beyond control leading to death.
- Lack of ethical standards and malpractice laws in many developing countries increase the risk of medical travelers. Patients are not well informed of the risks and possible outcomes of a treatment by the hospitals and clinics.
- Misinformation can lead to worst, inefficient treatment and wastage of time money and health. Pre-operative and postoperative care is not available in many of the hospitals in abroad. Sometimes the cost of the whole trip amounts to more than the predictable amount at the end and the patients meet a financial setback.
- Problems can stem from legal permits and paper works at well. A change of place can make the patients and their families nervous and anxious due to the difference in the language and culture barrier.
- Medical tourism can broaden the disparity in healthcare services. Private healthcare facilities offering quality care are top gainers in medical tourism as foreign travelers seek their service and not of the public healthcare facilities. This can create a severe inequality in healthcare service distribution where the less affluent (the locals) are likely to be deprived of quality care. Top medical talents concentrate in private healthcare facilities lured by better remuneration making the public facilities suffer badly.
- In case things go wrong in medical tourism, there are no well framed regulations in most countries to support the distressed medical travelers. Neither the medical travelers can seek legal help from their own country.
- Abroad healthcare expenses are not covered by many insurance companies unless there is a tie up with specific healthcare facilities or organizations.
In spite of several advantages and disadvantages of medical tourism, the trend is showing upward growth. Governments of many popular destinations have taken appreciable steps to reduce the disadvantageous factors to win the trust and confidence of foreign medical patients. The industry is optimistic in maintaining sustainability by adding more credible points to its products and services to attract a higher number of medical travelers.