Medical travel can be beneficial even to people who are insured in US: This is because the top destinations for medical travel have hospitals with doctors trained in the US and UK. Some of them are rated higher than top US hospitals with respect to success rate of certain procedures; This is being recognized by insurance companies in US who have started testing the waters by introducing pilot programs. Small businesses have already started working with the insurance companies who offer this product for their employees with lower premium and out of pocket expenses.
My four year old had put some foreign material (Styrofoam) in her ears at school.. I had to take her to an emergency room at a nearby General Hospital as recommended by the pediatrician.. We spent about 30-45 minutes at the hospital where the doctor used a simple method to remove the material.
Now after couple of weeks we received a bill of $1200 for the entire service. Our insurance covered $1000 and rest had to be paid by us. This exorbitant price charged by providers for a simple case is a real life example of why the healthcare costs go up higher than the inflation rate every year.
Globalized workforce will drive global healthcare - Many of the blue chip companies in US like IBM etc. have increased focus in emerging markets drawing majority of their revenue from these regions. The companies have employees travelling to different countries around the world working on various projects, hence there will be a growing need for insurance companies to include international hospitals in their plan. This model will be adopted by increasing number of US companies in the near future, hence making medical travel a common and known phenomenon.
Special procedures like hip resurfacing, stem cells, ayurveda (a system of complementary and alternative medicine) and natural treatments only available abroad – Some of the international facilities have created a leadership position in niche procedures like eye surgery in Aravind Eye Hospital in India, affordable and effective prosthetics called Jaipur foot. The most popular type of treatment available abroad especially in south Asia is Ayurveda, which is a ancient traditional plant based medicine helping cure chronic illnesses, where modern medicine fails miserably.
Opportunity to learn new culture & people during medical travel
We cannot shy away from the fact that we are currently living in a globalized world and hence every one of us have to be open to international travel especially if one is an employee of a multinational company. It’s an opportunity to learn and experience a foreign country while at the same get a procedure done at an affordable price, which would not have been possible otherwise. In one lifetime everyone desires to acquire as much knowledge as possible about the world, people and their cultures which gives a picture of how we human beings are connected in this planet. If someone wants to learn about others it is only possible by actually visiting the place and experiencing it yourself instead of reading about it in books. Anyone who is open minded and has this curiosity to learn about others will find medical travel as an excuse to realize their dreams.
Every research indicates that the best way to keep costs low for both employers as well as the health care providers is by encouraging people to stay healthy, hence preventive measure is very deeply connected to the overall economic and personal growth of the people. In recent times there is increasing trend of corporate America to deny coverage for certain procedures to its employees to remain profitable in a globally competitive market. Corporate America can no longer have the luxury of taking things for granted with respect to unabated growth, and maintaining a leadership position in any given industry. Organizations have already started introducing various programs, which encourages their employees to sign up and commit themselves to practice a healthy lifestyle. If a non-urgent procedure is recommended by doctors when required then it can be taken care of at locations as close as Mexico for a nominal cost, which otherwise would have led to a aggravated condition.
Avoid financial hardship/bankruptcy
The latest statistics indicate that 60% of the bankruptcy cases filed by Americans are due to medical bills. This number is going to increase because of the economic downturn and rising inflation especially on healthcare costs. A comprehensive solution is nowhere near while the healthcare needs of the Americans are immediate and pressing. It is normal for Americans because of the status quo to give financial health a higher priority than healthcare needs, hence whenever they are confronted with a situation where they have to choose one or the other it is always the case that people avoid their health needs to save money unless it is an urgent requirement. The economic recession since 2008 has aggravated this situation increasing the number of un-insured Americans to 59 million as of Nov 2010. Not to mention more than 45 million people who are under-insured in US. It is no secret that there has been a stagnation of growth income for most Americans for the past decade, which has only acted a catalyst to this disastrous route of financial hardship ultimately leading to bankruptcy.
Reason # 1
Get quality care at affordable price
The quality of services offered by international providers outside US is either same or better for similar procedures. The cost is kept low because of various factors like low operations cost of facilities and direct relationship between doctors and patients. It enables the facilities to provide services at least 1/10th cost of what is charged in the US
A common perception exists among the citizens of advanced economies that the quality of services offered in every field in these countries is un-matched in the world. It is also very obvious to expect quality to be directly proportional to the price of the service being offered. In the increasing globalized world with respect to the interdependency of economies between advanced and developing countries this perception is gradually changing, which is clearly depicted by the outsourcing of white collar jobs earlier thought as totally not practical. It is true that technology has played a vital role to enable this shift but the quality of services offered by the people in the developing countries is also a driving force. Now when we talk about medical care things are not much different. The doctors practicing at some of the top hospitals in international hospitals are trained in US and UK, and they bring in lot of experience and credibility to their practice. The facilities offering these medical procedures are recognized by some of the top accreditation organizations like Join Commission International based out of US. Some of the facilities offer very specialized procedures not offered anywhere else in North American for e.g. unique cancer treatment in Germany, prosthetics in India etc. In the near future this trend is going to continue and will eventually become part of mainstream just like any other industry in the US, hence the more educated the people are through independent platforms like iElixir.com the better will be the outcome of the overall health of families and society.
While on a family trip to Bangalore, India me and my wife decided to visit a dentist referred by a family friend of ours. At the outset we were very much surprised to find out that the Dentist had an advanced degree from University of California, Los Angeles (she is still a member of American Dental Association) and had moved back to India after practicing for 7 years in the bay area. I had to take care of crown lengthening, which would have cost me $700 out of pocket as quoted by my dentist in New York City, while my wife needed dental bridges with crowns (cost would have been more than $3000 in US).
After initial consultation we decided to go ahead and get the procedures done during our stay in Bangalore. The dentist and her staff were very professional and they had all the latest equipments in the facility.
The total cost for taking care of our procedures here was $500 hence saving almost 85% for the same quality service.
Now this is precisely the reason why so many people are willing to travel abroad to take care of non-urgent medical needs without any barriers like insurance coverage, cost etc. It also gives an opportunity to visit and learn about a new place which otherwise would not have been possible.