Why Consider Global Healthcare?
The reasons individuals consider medical tourism will vary however the main driving factors include:
• Many procedures in Canada are not covered by universal healthcare. Examples include cosmetic surgery, elective eye surgery, fertility treatments and dental care. In the United States, many citizens do not have medical insurance or do not have full coverage. Out of pocket expenses for health care often require significant financial resources which limit the number of people who can afford them.
• The same market forces that drive the improvement in quality of global healthcare also help maintain the competitiveness of the costs of the care provided. There is no sacrifice in quality when it comes to the lower costs of healthcare abroad. Most foreign countries have a competitive edge over local healthcare providers because the labour, equipment, litigation and malpractice costs are lower.
• Cost savings vary by procedure, physician and country. At times, savings can be as high as 70% compared to the same procedure in the US.
2. Wait Times
• The increasing demands of a growing and aging population combined with near stagnant healthcare budgets have created a situation in Canada and Europe where wait times for elective procedures continue to lengthen. Unless drastic changes occur, the wait time situation will not improve. For those waiting for surgery such as knee or hip replacements, having surgery in a timely manner means the difference between going back to work or staying at home and losing necessary income. When one considers the cost of paying for the procedure vs lost wages, the former often makes sense. This is in addition to the added pain and suffering they must endure.
3. Procedure not available locally
• There are cases where a highly specialized procedure/treatment is not available locally. This can be due to a few reasons:
• The rarity of the procedure/treatment.
• The availability of the medical professional who provides the procedure/treatment.
• Local regulatory guidelines which limit the availability of the procedure/treatment. This can include cutting edge procedures and treatments that have not gone through the long regulatory process in Canada or the USA.
• For Canadian residents, if a medically necessary treatment is not available in their home province, the government may be obliged to cover the expenses of the treatment elsewhere. However, the government will not always cover the costs of travel unless it is an emergency and all out of country treatment requires prior approval.
4. First Class Facilities
• Private facilities serving international patients are often brand new, state of the art clinics and hospitals with the latest in medical care. Some of the equipment they offer is not available at home. These facilities have been designed and built with patient comfort and process efficiency in mind.
5. Quality and Accreditation
• More and more international hospitals are completing the rigorous accreditation process similar to what Canadian, US and European hospitals are accustomed to. This is extra assurance for the travelling patient that these facilities and organizations are serious about making sure you have every confidence in what they do. It doesn’t stop there, many physicians who work there are affiliated, trained and/or board certified in the Canada, the US or Europe.
• One’s health is a personal matter and many patients prefer to have procedures done anonymously. Medical tourism provides this additional benefit. Everyone else will only know you were on vacation.
7. Personal Care
• Personal Attention: With higher nurse patient ratios and physicians who are with you throughout the entire process the medical tourist will encounter a level of personal attention and care that they are not accustomed to at home. In many countries there is a family atmosphere, making your hospital stay feel more at home and comfortable.
• Longer Supervised Recovery: As opposed to the situation in Canada and the US where you are out of the hospital and on your own as soon as possible, international facilities have more flexibility and prefer to keep you in hospital until the supervising physician feels you are well enough to continue your recovery in your hotel.
8. Travel Opportunity
• For many, having a procedure in another country provides the opportunity to tour and stake in the local culture. This can be done either prior to the procedure or afterwards, depending on what medical treatment is being sought. The medical treatment and recovery are always the priority and this is an added benefit.