What is medical travel?
Each year, over 11 million patients worldwide leave their home country for a medical treatment. This year, more than 200,000 Brits and 1.4 million Americans are expected to travel abroad for a medical treatment or procedure. Medical travel is the world’s fastest growing healthcare market and shows no sign of slowing down.
Often referred to as medical or health tourism, medical travel is an option for those seeking timely, efficient and affordable treatments. It is a global market of patients electing to travel across international borders to receive some kind of medical treatment. The first medical travellers set foot centuries ago. Ancient Greeks would journey from all over the Mediterranean to a small territory near the Saronic Gulf called Epidauria. According to the Greeks, this territory belonged to the healing god- the birthplace of medical travel. Nowadays, the most frequent treatments include dental care, cosmetic surgery, elective surgery and infertility treatment. Although there is no universal definition of medical travel, it generally does not include emergency cases or expatriates seeking medical care in their country of residence.
Why are people choosing medical travel?
The two main reasons people go abroad for a medical treatment are long-wait times and cost. Recent statistics show that the average wait time for an approved treatment in the UK is 18 more weeks or more- the worst in 7 years. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS), provides free healthcare to nearly 64.6 million people; 54.3 million in England alone. As of 2016, this means nearly 1 million patients every 36 hours. The NHS covers everything from routine screenings, to treatment for long-term conditions and end-of-life care, but often excludes prescription costs, optical and dental services, and infertility treatments such as IVF. Unapproved patients are forced to seek out private practices, making many medical treatments unaffordable.
In the United States, healthcare costs continue to skyrocket. Individuals who must purchase health insurance on the open market are faced with an overwhelming number of choices. A comprehensive health insurance plan will run the average American $100 per month or more. For other health insurance consumers’, their choices are limited by their employer’s group health insurance providers. Still many medical treatments may end up being out-of-pocket- such as adult dental care, weight loss or cosmetic surgery and corrective eye surgery. For example, LASIK eye surgery in the UK or United States can cost anywhere between £1,432-£5527 per eye depending on the severity of the prescription. Abroad, costs may be as low as £750 per eye. Medical travel can save patients up to 80% with wait-times as little as 1-2 weeks.
Where are the most popular destinations?
An average medical travel patients saves about 30%-80% on the cost of their medical procedure or treatment at home. A patient’s goal is to find the best price without compromising the quality of care. This can be challenging as standards, costs, and areas of expertise vary by country. Traditionally, the medical travel market has been dominated by Latin American countries such as Costa Rica, Mexico, and Brazil as well as countries in Southeast Asia including Thailand, Malaysia and India.
Sharing a common background or culture is important as well. Recently, European hospitals and private clinics have started promoting their services. Countries including Belgium, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, are providing new opportunities and shorter travel times for medical travelers coming from the UK, Canada and the United States.
How do I plan my trip abroad?
Once deciding on the right country, the next step is selecting the right clinic. Treatment costs, convenience, and staff credentials and experience must be considered. Though some patients decide to go this step alone, millions use an online medical travel platform or agency to help. This saves valuable time during the decision-making process and elevates the headache and stress of doing research on your own. The purpose of a medical travel platform is not stand as a middleman, but rather to act as a facilitator and a resource. The aim is to put you, as the patient, in direct contact with the clinics, dentists, and surgeons, allowing your questions and concerns to be answered by the professionals.
Read More: How To Prepare For Your Trip Abroad
After speaking to your surgeon or dentist and selecting a clinic, the final step is to book a date. At Salutara, we assist you in arranging your flights, accommodation and transportation upon arrival. You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to your hotel or accommodation. It is not uncommon for patients to schedule several extra days before or after their surgery to take advantage of the sites and culture in the country.
By using a medical travel platform, you not only gain a personal travel liaison but a personal advocate throughout the entire journey.
When can I get started?
Today! The purpose of medical travel is to make healthcare accessible and affordable for everyone. Unaffordable treatments and unbearable wait-times are no longer acceptable.
Medical travel platforms serve to make research and planning your trip quick and easy. From the comfort of your sofa you can search and compare prices, clinics and procedures, and get free online consultations and quotes. Once selecting a treatment and clinic, you’re also put in direct communication with your surgeon or dentist, so that all of your medical questions and concerns can be addressed by a professional.
Medical travel is changing the way million of people look at healthcare and saving them valuable time and money. So what are you waiting for?
Ready To Start Your Journey? Get A Free Consultation And Quotes Today!