There are many benefits to medical tourism, including more specialised physicians and improved service, but what about its downsides? While the level of risk varies depending on the destination and procedure performed, here are some potential risks which you should consider before making a final decision to travel abroad for medical care.
Cost of care
While countries typically provide competitive and consistently priced public and private healthcare options for their citizens, there are no such resources available to medical tourism patients. It is not unheard of for a physician to charge medical tourists significantly more than they would charge locals for care. Typically, an individual has little negotiating power or background understanding of the typical cost for a course of care. As such, the only way for them to shield against this risk is to conduct extensive research, which is both time-consuming and difficult to achieve. Many medical tourists find it helpful to engage a group or company that can ensure they are not overcharged.
Quality of care
Since medical tourists often pay more than locals, they are prized by physicians. It is possible for a physician to exaggerate their specialisation or expertise to secure a medical tourism patient. For example, a physician may possess the necessary specialisations and certifications, but he or she may have little practical experience in conducting the desired procedure. If so, the patient may expose themselves to higher risks of complications by choosing that physician. A physician is unlikely to share with a patient how many of a specific procedure they perform a year, but a company or group that contracts with the physician can require this type of information to allow the physician on their network, assessing quality of care and areas of particular expertise.