3 Ways To Avoid Overpaying For Hidden Medical Costs

Would you ever buy a house without windows and doors?

How about a car that didn’t include the price of tires, mirrors, and headlights? Probably not. It actually sounds ridiculous. And like the responsible consumer that you are, you’d probably do your research first in order to find the best deal. Right? Sadly, when it comes to undergoing a medical or cosmetic procedure, patients are more likely to neglect the fine print. Whereas an average person takes 6-12 months before making a major purchase, when it comes to our health, we’re quicker to pull the trigger without fully understanding the cost breakdown.

Are You Paying More Than You Should?

As international travel becomes more affordable, medical travel, or medical tourism, is becoming a safe and economical option for those looking to save money without sacrificing quality. Driven by rising insurance prices, under coverage, and long wait times (see: Why Are Millions of People Choosing Medical Travel?), medical travel is sparking competition between European clinics looking to attract more international clients. In many ways, healthy competition is good. But like all good things, it leaves room for those looking to lure in patients with empty promises.

Take dental crowns and veneers, for instance. Cosmetic dentistry is a booming industry in Central Europe. Hundreds of online medical platforms are available to provide free quotes and facilitate your travel. However, some quotes- though extremely cheap- do not include all of the necessary treatment costs.

Recently, a dental clinic in Hungary was quoting patients 4,500 EUR for 12 full ceramic crowns. Several patients reported arranging their surgeries, as well as flights and accommodation, only to find that the original price did NOT include the price of Kofferfam (dental dam), anesthesia or the temporary crowns.

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Similarly, breast augmentation is notorious for hidden costs and caveats. A common trap is when clinics advertise low prices, but only if a specific, often lower-quality, implant is used. The leading problem with cheap implants is that patients are more likely to experience corrective surgery down the road- often costing more than the original surgery.

Plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Law comments, “Some physicians promote low-priced breast augmentation, only for a patient to discover that the price is only for one type of implant, with one type of incision…then, the “bait and switch” ensues.” He continues to explain, “A different implant will cost more…an anesthesiologist will cost more…[and] then, just like buying a used car, the price will shift from the total price to monthly payments with a financing plan that could be very regrettable. This is a huge red flag.”

“Some physicians promote low priced breast augmentation, only for a patient to discover that the price is for only one type of implant, with one type of incision…then, the “bait and switch” ensues.”

Unfortunately, read the fine print quotes are popping up all over the globe. The good news is, you can protect yourself with these three, simple tips:

1. Request A FULL Cost Breakdown

The is especially important for patients traveling abroad and negotiating quotes online. Whether you are working directly with the clinic or using an online medical travel platform, you have the right to know exactly what you are paying for. Below is a patient quote for 12 full ceramic crowns from two separate dental clinics in Prague, the Czech Republic. In this case, transparency is key. Otherwise, you could end up paying a la carte for things such as anesthesia, bandages, drains, medication and overnight recovery time.

Price Offer Summary

Medistetik, Prague, the Czech Republic

Schill Dental, Prague, the Czech Republic

  2. Only Work With Accredited Clinics & Surgeons

This may seem obvious, but thanks to technology, any clinic or surgeon with a sexy new website may seem legitimate. Memberships and certifications to look for include:

  • The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS)
  • European Association of Plastic Surgeons (EURAPS)
  • British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) 
  • General Medical Council (GMC)
  • American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)

A trusted clinic will typically display their accreditation and provide explicit pricing. A board certified surgeon will likely do the same. If you are using a medical platform, make sure they only partner with accredited clinics. Also, ensure that they are providing quotes directly from the clinic.

3. Cheaper Isn’t Always Cheaper

Undergoing a medical or cosmetic procedure is not like negotiating a new data plan. While it’s important to find an affordable treatment, it is certainly not everything. And often you end up paying more than the slightly more expensive treatment.The patients who went to the Hungarian dental clinic ended up paying a total of 64006900 EUR. This is approximately 2,000 EUR more than the original quote.

To avoid a similar fate, treat your procedure like buying a new car. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. New York plastic surgeon, Dr. Matthew Schulman adds,”While [there] are legitimate ways to keep costs down…some doctors cut costs other ways. Some may choose to lower costs by using poorly qualified staff and non-board-certified anesthesiologists. Others may obtain medications, supplies, and even breast implants from overseas distributors where prices are lower but standards are more lax. These are all things that can place your results – and personal safety – at risk.”

Basically, it is important to take your time. Weigh your options, do your research, and remember that it is your health (and wallet) that will ultimately pay the price.

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Patient Profile: Meet Candida- Breast Augmentation

Candida’s Breast Augmentation Journey 

Each year, over 40 million cosmetic surgeries are performed around the world. Of these 40 million, 1.4 million are breast augmentations; the most popular cosmetic surgery among women. Most elective cosmetic surgery is not covered by health insurance, and as the price of health care skyrockets, more patients are choosing to have their medical treatments and surgeries abroad- over 11 million to be exact.

Today you will meet Candida, a Brazilian native and mother of a young daughter, as she talks about her decision to get breast augmentation abroad. Like other medical travelers, Candida’s story begins with a challenge and ends with a solution that provides the best, quickest and most affordable results.dsc_0916-1dsc_0271

Q: What factors influenced your decision to get breast augmentation?

Well, I’ve always had small breast- which I actually liked. I never thought about getting breast augmentation until after having my first child and starting to breastfeed. It’s amazing what a woman’s body experiences after childbirth, and it is not uncommon for the breasts to change size and shape after breastfeeding. Some get larger, some return to their pre-pregnancy size, but for me, mine got even smaller.

Breastfeeding for several years, along with post-baby dieting and exercise had a significant influence on their size. For the first time in my life I wanted larger breasts- similar to the size before having children. I had never had cosmetic surgery before, so it was not a decision to take lightly. If I was going to do this, I wanted the best surgeons and the highest quality. I am also a full-time chef, so between being a mother and my busy work schedule, I needed a solution that was simple.

Q: What made you choose to go abroad for your breast augmentation?

Originally I was going to go to Brazil, my home country, for the procedure. However, I live and work in Vienna, so traveling that far was going to be time consuming and pricey. That’s when a friend of mine introduced me to the full-service, online medical platform, Salutara. At the time I was aware of people traveling abroad for cosmetic surgery, but I never knew their were end-to-end services to assist you in the process. Salutara was an excellent resource to compare cosmetic surgery clinics based on price, accreditation, patient reviews and quality. They made the decision-making process quick, and simple, and saved me valuable time by alleviating the headache of doing research on my own.

Read More: 5 Thing To Consider Before Breast Augmentation

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Candida Before Breast Augmentation, Brandeis Clinic

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Candida After Breast Augmentation, Brandeis Clinic

Q: Why did you choose to have your breast augmentation in Prague?

I had previously lived in Prague for 3 years, so I already knew it’s excellent reputation for cosmetic surgery. It is also a four and a half hour train ride from Vienna, so logistically it made sense. Salutara is partners with the Brandeis Clinic in Prague, and immediately put me in direct contact with my surgeon and the clinic staff. No surgery is without risk, and fears are normal, especially when you’re going into the surgery voluntarily. Speaking to my surgeon allowed me to have all of my questions and concerns addressed before the trip. We also discussed in length the type of implant I would get- anatomical (natural) or round- and if they would be subpectoral (under the muscle) or prepectoral (over the muscle). We agreed on Motiva, a round implant under the muscle.

Q:Was cost the most important factor?

I don’t think you can put a price on your health. If a safe surgery and better results meant spending more money, then I would do it. Sure, savings are attractive, especially when they can exceed 80%, but quality always takes precedence. Fortunately the Brandeis Clinic in Prague offers top-notch quality and state-of-the-art technology, so I did not have to sacrifice anything. The quality offered in Prague exceeded that in Vienna, so my decision to travel was easy. The significant difference in price was just icing on the cake.

Q: What were your first thoughts upon arriving at your clinic in Prague?

Throughout the entire process, my communication with Salutara and my clinic was quick and efficient. I was provided with all of the information about the surgery and exams before leaving Vienna. When I arrived in Prague, a member of Salutara was there to greet me and take me to my hotel, despite being very late in the evening. The next morning I went to the Brandeis Clinic where I met my surgeon, anesthetist, and the staff.  As for the atmosphere, it was a beautiful building with modern installations, and located in the center of Prague. From my window I had lovely views that overlooked the cobblestone streets and century-old architecture.

Q: How prepared did you feel before the surgery?

I felt very confident and assured. The clinic was fully equipped, and my surgeon and anesthetist walked me through every detail. I was in good hands. There were absolutely no problems with communication either- which I know is a concern for some medical travelers. They offered english or german and the surgeons and nurses were really nice about providing me details about the whole surgery, care and after care. Breast augmentation requires full-anesthesia and the procedure took a little under two hours. Before I knew it I was waking up in recovery.

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Brandeis Clinic is located in the historical center of the Czech Republic’s capital city, Prague

Q: It has been several weeks since your surgery, how do you feel about the results?

Well, I am still healing and the implants are settling. Surgery recovery is about 2 weeks and full recovery can take up to two months. But, so far I am extremely happy. My breasts look excellent and I am thrilled with the results. I keep asking myself why I didn’t get the surgery done sooner- but better late than never! My surgeon did beautiful work and I highly recommend Prague and the Brandeis Clinic to anyone else considering cosmetic surgery or medical travel. In fact, I am so pleased I have already recommended my surgeon to several of my friends who are now interested in breast augmentation themselves.

Q: What advice would you give to other medical travelers, or those considering it for the first time?

I highly recommend you don’t go it alone. Using a full-service medical platform like Salutara, saves you time, stress and a lot of headaches. And as I mentioned before, savings are great, but they should be a bonus to exceptional quality. 

Second, ask questions! As many as you can think of. This is when being in direct contact with your surgeon is crucial, another benefit of using a medical platform. Cosmetic surgery is not something to take lightly, and important health questions (specific to you) need professional answers. Finally, if your schedule and allows it, take advantage of the city you’re traveling to. For instance, in Prague I recommend you take at least one day before your surgery to be a tourist and enjoy the most beautiful city in Europe. I also recommend spending a full 2-3 days (depending on your surgery) post-surgery to recover. This will make the trip home more comfortable.

 Thanks, Candida!– Your Team At Salutara

 

Thinking About Medical Travel? Check Out: Medical Travel: How To Prepare For Your Trip Abroad