How much would you spend for your medical vacation? What expenses should you prepare for? Cost will depend on the procedure you’re eyeing, the destination where you’d like to have that procedure, and other aspects you might not have thought of. Here are some budget planning tips and considerations as you prepare for a medical tourism trip.
Tips for Medical Tourism Costs and Budget Planning
1. Traveling JUST for medical or dental treatment may not always be financially advantageous.
If you’re from North America and your procedure would cost US $6,000 or less locally, travelling abroad SOLELY for treatment may not be that beneficial if you’re shouldering all the expenses. When getting medical treatment abroad, you should also consider travel and accommodations, among other things. Compare all the related costs and risks (financial and health) across your different treatment options.
However, if your employer offers a medical tourism option for healthcare, you may not even have to shell out anything for your medical treatment abroad. If you’re flying out already anyway, then getting a minor medical or dental treatment could definitely be worth it.
2. Beware of package pricing.
A blanket price doesn’t work for all patients and all medical treatments. For package deals, be careful to read the fine print especially for those involving surgery. Your current condition will affect the procedure and subsequently, your total cost. For most major treatments, it’s best to plan a budget based on quoted prices after an assessment of your condition.
3. Be thorough with your medical records.
Be honest and comprehensive when it comes to your medical history. Otherwise you could encounter complications before, during or after your procedure. Aside from going over your medical records, a physical assessment could be necessary for price quotation. Give your doctor abroad all the medical information necessary to assess and prepare you for treatment.
4. Get a detailed breakdown of the fees involved in your medical treatment.
Do your research on the medical treatment you’re planning and get an itemized breakdown of the costs involved every step of the way. In fact, make sure to have this detailed quotation before you travel for treatment abroad.
The final price of your treatment is composed of different expenses, which could include:
- Doctor’s fees
- Other specialist’s fees such as the anesthesiologist’s
- Material costs (breast implants, anesthesia, for example)
- Medications (during your stay at the clinic or hospital and possibly after)
- Laboratory tests and/or diagnostic imaging (before, during and after your treatment)
- Operating room costs
- Room rates for inpatient procedures
- Follow-up appointments and related costs
Even at respected hospitals in your home country, there are always risks involved. Ask upfront if the quoted price includes care for possible complications like post-surgical infection.
5. Avoid hidden costs and anticipate for other charges.
When it comes to package pricing, you have to be meticulous to avoid hidden or additional fees. Below are some situations that could incur added costs. Although you may not be able to avoid all of them, you can least prepare for them.
Medical Complications – It is critical that you understand the risks and complications of your medical treatment, so you can work on lowering these risks as much as possible.
Longer Hospital Stay – This could be due to a complication or it could simply be the rate of how your body responds and heals.
Additional Medications or Medical Treatments – Your doctor might need to prescribe extra medicine or other medical procedures before, during or after your treatment. You can ask your medical provider or medical tourism facilitator more about this.
In-hospital and Take-home Medications – When you get the details of your treatment costs, pay attention to your medicines. Check if your hospital includes medications during your hospital stay as part of the quoted cost and if take-home medicines like pain medications and antibiotics are also covered.
Additional Charges for Accommodations and Other Services – Hotels will likely charge you for extra or soiled beddings. Additional transportation, meals or other special services are likely going to cost you. Check with your hotel or facilitator about these details.
6. Budget for your ENTIRE trip like you would a regular vacation.
Apart from the medical expenses, your medical tourism trip is going to have just about the same expenses as a regular trip. Therefore, plan for travel fare, accommodations, transportation and meals. Depending on your itinerary, you might want to prepare for tours, souvenirs and other travel activities. Here are the general travel expenses for your medical trip.
Passport and Visa Application/renewal
If you’ll be flying out to another country for medical treatment, you’ll need to have a passport ready. Applying or renewing your passport will have some minimal fee. Check if you need a visa to enter your medical tourism destination.
Travel and Airfare
You will likely be paying more for your plane tickets the farther away your medical tourism destination is. Also consider expenses and logistics of your airport, hotel and hospital transfers.
Accommodations and Meals
When you choose lodgings during your trip and especially during recuperation, consider your medical treatment. For example, patients coming from major and critical surgeries will need extra care and excellent conditions conducive for recovery — whereas outpatient treatments like dental implants may not require such delicate attention. When planning the length of your trip, don’t forget to take your recovery period into account. Meals will be provided during your hospital stay.
Some people opt for travel insurance, especially to help with inconveniences like delayed flights and other travel-related financial losses. Your credit card company may even cover issues like car rental liability or lost luggage.
Travel insurance coverage varies based on provider and policy type. It typically covers trip cancellation, travel medical, major medical, emergency medical evacuation, accidental death/flight accident, and specialized coverage. If you already have medical or health insurance, you can check your policy for possible coverage on treatments availed abroad.
7. Consider where you’re going and the medical tourism services you’d like.
Based on your travel destination, you might need to get vaccinated for some illnesses.
Lifestyle and Local Cost of Living
Other factors that will affect your medical trip expenses, especially if you’re mixing medical treatment with a holiday, will be your travel itinerary and your personal preferences. Some destinations can be cheaper than others. Do your research to find out the relative cost of living for the medical tourism countries you are considering.
Facilitator Fees or Hospital’s International Patient Service Fees
Medical tourism facilitators will help you with everything from getting your passport, coordinating with the hotel and hospital, and getting you home. Of course, you’ll need to assess different facilitator agencies, their services and fees.
Some clinics and hospitals abroad offer international patient assistance that cover most of the details for a medical tourism trip. If you’re availing of a treatment package, some aspects of your trip such as hotel stay and airport transfers may already be covered.
Here’s a basic breakdown of the costs involved when getting medical treatment abroad: