MedRetreat – Medical Tourism

February 23, 2009

Medical Tourism Price Considerations

If you are considering medical tourism as an alternative to the high cost of care in the U.S., you would be wise to never choose your surgeon and hospital solely based on price. Safety, quality, and service are equally important when it comes to your health. Your challenge is to find the best VALUE, not price. This is where a medical tourism service agency, like MedRetreat can help.

Price is of course one of the more important factors when considering your medical tourism options. After all,  that is probably what motivated you to look outside of North America for your medical care in the first place. Many factors must be considered before choosing your surgeon and hospital. And, the underlying criteria should always be your safety. With this in mind, seek the very best medical travel value based on safety and quality.

Word of caution: When researching costs abroad, be sure to compare all related expenses of receiving your surgery overseas. The only way to accomplish this is to provide a host of information about your specific medical condition in order to receive an accurate itemized quotation. Beware of package pricing. ONLY consider price quotations that are based on the assessment of your personal condition. Package pricing may not be all inclusive of your specific medical needs.

You can find almost any price you’re looking for over the Internet when searching for health tourism options. Since your ultimate selection should be taken very seriously, it may not be prudent to simply go with the lowest price.

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February 17, 2009

Quality and Safety of Medical Tourism

There is much to consider before experiencing a successful medical retreat. The first issues to investigate are the quality, experience, and safety of the destinations, hospitals, and doctors. You can perform a quick search on the Internet and find a substantial number of foreign hospitals, doctors, and even government organizations marketing directly to the worldwide consumer.  

CONSUMERS BEWARE! Marketing rhetoric and posh photos can be deceiving. We have personally experienced this type of misperception. In our travels to 5 continents (13 destinations within 9 countries) around the world, we have seen these misrepresentations more often than not. This presents a very interesting question; how do you know who is telling the truth and who is fabricating information? The truth is, you don’t until you have either experienced it first hand or know of a trusting source that has had the experience.

In reality, it’s impossible for most people to know first hand, because they haven’t traveled to a foreign country to inspect the quality of healthcare. So, what’s the next step? Find someone you can trust who has had the experience and is willing provide an objective point of view. Good luck in your search! This may not be an easy task to accomplish. Hence the need for a bona fide, professional, medical tourism service agency in the U.S. to help consumers make these difficult choices. By utilizing the knowledge and expertise of an unbiased medical tourism specialist, you will better guarantee your safety and comfort while traveling abroad for your surgery.

February 14, 2009

e-Health and Medical Tourism

Today most of our medical records are on written paper and stored in files at our family doctor’s office. In all likelihood, every time we visit a new doctor or specialist, our medical case notes are not filed along with the rest of our records in one central location. In order for us to improve the quality of our national health care system and dramatically reduce the risk of medical errors, it is imperative that the medical community converts all of our individual medical records to digital format that is instantly accessible to care providers wherever they may be.

With today’s advanced web-based and software technology, there is little reason for us to not have one central electronic file which contains all of our medical information from the day we are born. Such a database would be an excellent resource for travelers to any destination around the globe, as medical care providers could seamlessly access and review the patients’ complete medical history prior to any treatment.  This would be a significant benefit to the medical tourism industry.

Several companies and organizations have already developed prototypes of such medical record databases, two of which include Microsoft and Google. However, the biggest obstacles to widespread implementation of these technologies have been the issues relating to the privacy of individual medical records.

In recent weeks, e-health has received tremendous traction as the new Obama Administration inserted provisions in the financial stimulus package to begin the process of converting all written medical records to electronic format in an effort to reduce errors and costs.  Although this massive initiative will not occur overnight, it is great news for all.

February 9, 2009

Health Insurance and Medical Tourism

Motivated by vast potential savings, the health insurance industry has been closely watching the medical tourism industry for several years. To date, most large health insurance providers cover only medical emergencies for their members when needed while traveling outside the U.S. 

However, in just the past couple of years Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina began offering their members the option of obtaining medical procedures outside the US through their medical travel affiliate in South Carolina. 

Beginning in January 2009, WellPoint began piloting an international “medical tourism” program through it’s affiliated health plan in Wisconsin, that will allow member employees at Serigraph, a specialty printing company based in the state to access health insurance benefits for common elective procedures at designated facilities in India.

Although these initial programs are very limited in scope and will most likely not facilitate any significant numbers in patient flow to foreign hospitals any time soon, it is clear evidence that there are real plans for growth for medical tourism in the future.

For now, the key impediments for insurance provider’s desire in offering international plans to their membership are the issues of liability and “continuity of care.” Since no legal framework pertaining to liability has been established in the global marketplace for medical care, the potential risks outweigh the rewards in the short-term.  

As for continuity of care, the U.S. medical community as a whole will have to develop a national network for follow-up care for all medical travelers upon their return to home.

Until these two issues are fully addressed, medical tourism will likely remain a fringe business to health insurance providers.       

February 7, 2009

The Emergence of Medical Tourism

The term “medical tourism” is actually misnomer and was fashioned by popular media as more people began traveling to foreign destinations in recent times for cosmetic and dental procedures. However, the concept of traveling great distances for healthcare is an ancient phenomenon. Middle Eastern and Asian civilizations traveled literally thousands of miles in order to receive medical care that didn’t exist in their homelands. In more contemporary times, wealthy people from all over the world have been traveling to the U.S. in order to receive the most advanced medical care at globally renowned hospitals such as Johns Hopkins and Mayo Clinic.

Today, medical tourism is a full-fledged industry that caters to all social-economic classes around the world. As globalization in communications, transportation, and medical technologies rapidly dispersed, the healthcare industries of many developing countries obtained the level of safety that meet the highest quality in international standards for care.

According to a Deloitte market research report in 2008, “more than 750,000 Americans left the country last year for less expensive medical treatments, a number projected to grow to six million by 2010.”

However, in another study conducted in early 2008 by McKinsey & Co, “the number of medical tourists was instead between 60,000 and 85,000.” 

Although there is no precise method of corroborating this quantitative data, the fact remains that medical travel shows great potential for future growth as globalization in communications, technology, and transportation rapidly spreads, while the quality of healthcare delivery overseas advances at the same time.  Whether traveling for exchange rate advantages, specialized treatment options, or the expertise of a particular surgeon, people from all economic backgrounds have options as never before.

February 2, 2009

What is Medical Tourism?

The term “medical tourism” (also called medical travel, health tourism or global healthcare), was coined by the mass media to describe the more recent trend of people traveling to foreign countries in order to receive medical treatment.

A typical medical retreat entails the flight to the foreign destination, a procedure performed in a hospital or clinic, perhaps a brief stay in the hospital, followed by a recuperative stay in a hotel for a specified period of time, and then a safe return home.

Standard treatments include elective procedures, such as all forms of cosmetic and dental, as well as non- elective specialties such as hip/knee replacements, artificial disc replacements, spinal fusions, and hysterectomies.

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