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Medical Tourism (Travel For Medical Care)

Step 1. Define Your Need

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First, be an informed consumer when deciding whether you need a medical procedure. Understand the nature of your condition, the treatment under discussion including advantages and risks.

Once you've decided to proceed:

Let your specialist or at least your primary care doctor know that you are considering obtaining the procedure outside the country. Get his or her opinion on the idea. The doctor may have an opinion about what part of the world would be best for your needs, as well as suggestions about health care providers and/or facilities. In any event:

  • Get a written description from your doctor of the medical terms for your diagnosis as well as the procedure you're seeking.
  • Ask your doctor if he or she is willing to forward the necessary medical information, as well as be available to communicate with the foreign doctor about you, your health condition and the proposed procedure.

Think about your priorities. For example, use our Prioritizer to list all the factors that could be relevant in your choice, and then number them according to your priority.

  • Price
  • Financing arrangements
  • Training of the doctor and other health care providers
  • Experience of the health care provider with your situation
  • Number of travel hours
  • Travel directly instead of with changes
  • Doctor and facility have malpractice liability insurance
  • Destinations you prefer
  • Destinations you should avoid
  • Consider how you want to go about doing the research and making arrangements. For example, do you want:
    • A company to recommend health care providers and destinations or do you feel that you are capable of doing the research on your own?
    • A company to make the medical arrangements for you or do you want to deal directly with the health care provider and facility?
    • A company to make travel arrangements?
    • A company to take care of you while abroad --from pick up at the airport to caring for your personal needs while abroad, to return to the airport?
    • To go alone, or is there a close friend or family member to accompany you? A companion can provide emotional support as well as act as your patient advocate. A companion may be able to stay with you in a hospital at no additional charge. Some providers include escorts for people who travel alone.

Consider whether you will be able to stay away longer than anticipated if there is a complication. Also check with your insurance company to find out whether you will be covered when you return home if there are complications, as well as for general follow-up care.

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