Medical Tourism Financing

by Asako Maruoka / Dec 13, 2011 /
Asako Maruoka's picture

Medical Tourism is the practice of visiting a specific country for a medical procedure as part of a vacation package. Two of the most common medical tourism destinations for US citizens are Mexico and Canada. Mexico is popular for medical procedures and prescription-filling services, while Canada is popular for prescription-filling services only.

 

The cost of medical procedures in the US can be quite high. The same services can often be obtained in a country such as Mexico for a radically lesser cost. Unfortunately, the standard of care in most Mexican facilities is also far lower than the level of care in US counterparts.

 

Groups of physicians and financiers have created special resorts to cater to individuals who want medical procedures that may be too expensive or difficult to obtain in other countries. These locales specialize in dentistry, weight-loss procedures such as gastric banding and gastric sleeves, laser eye surgeries, plastic surgery and many other specialties.

 

The dentists, cosmetic surgeons and other physicians are highly skilled, and the medical facilities are modern and equipped - in most cases, with state-of-the-art technology. The facilities have modeled the entire experience of the medical procedure after all-inclusive vacation resorts by combining air travel, hotel accommodations, meals, transportation to and from the facility, medical care, and in many cases even shopping excursions, all into one inclusive package.

 

In the US, private health insurance covers the bulk of a medical procedure. Patients typically pay a deductible and a co-pay, which is a percentage of the cost of the procedure, from their own resources. However, insurance policies usually cover only procedures that are deemed medically necessary and only at specific facilities. Medical procedures outside of the US become highly  viable options when the total cost of travel and a procedure in another country is less than the deductible and co-pay in the US, or when the procedure is an elective that is not covered by insurance regardless of where it is performed. Plasticsurgeryguide.com provides access to information on skilled plastic surgeons, but it does not address financial issues.

 

Many medical vacation sites have created viable financial packages by combining a vacation-like experience, which people would cover with their own resources anyway, with medical procedures that patients want but either cannot get or cannot afford in the US. Cosmetic surgery is the most commonly sought procedure at these facilities. Most locations offer financing packages to patients that amortize the cost of the procedure and payment to the cosmetic surgeons over time with a special loan.