(credit: Guschenkova/shutterstock)

(credit: Guschenkova/shutterstock)


Sometimes those who are in need of medical care find treatment in another state or country. In these cases it becomes necessary for the patient, and possibly a friend or family member, to travel and take a vacation. These are often referred to as medical vacations or medical tourism. Taking a medical vacation means that you will have access to treatment or better treatment for a condition than you might at home.
(credit: Ilike/shutterstock)

(credit: Ilike/shutterstock)


Procedures

There are many different reasons why someone might seek medical assistance outside of their hometown. Just as there are a few common reasons why some travel outside of the U.S. for treatment. Some of the most common treatment categories for procedures outside of the U.S. include orthopedic surgery, cardiac surgery, oncologic care, dentistry and cosmetic surgery. Some people have also traveled for assisted pregnancy treatments, including in-vitro fertilization, freezing embryos and surrogacy. In most cases, patients believe they can receive the same quality of care, if not better, elsewhere for a more affordable price.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Destinations

There are many destinations around the world that offer quality medical care and treatment options. Some of the most common destinations for medical care include Thailand, India, Cuba, Brazil, Costa Rica, Argentina, Singapore, Mexico and Malaysia. Popular destinations for cosmetic surgery include Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Turkey, Thailand and Ukraine.

(credit: Pressmaster/shutterstock)

(credit: Pressmaster/shutterstock)


Benefits

There are many different benefits to taking a medical vacation. The most important benefit is being able to have access to the best possible medical care for the condition the patient is suffering from. Another benefit is affordability. Though it may cost more money to travel, the amount of money a patient can save having certain procedures and treatments done can be significant. There are also some who travel for medical treatment from doctors who have the same beliefs and cultural background.
 
Another benefit is time. In some countries, patients have to wait a long time before being able to receive the treatment they need. It could be weeks, if not months, before a patient is able to undergo surgery that is voluntary or non-life threatening. Some patients have traveled overseas because they are able to get the transplants they need when they need them, instead of having to sit on a wait list.

(credit: Randy Yag)

(credit: Randy Yag)


Costs

Because treatment is being sought outside of the U.S., most medical insurance carriers will not cover the treatment nor the travel involved. It is up for the patient to cover all costs out of pocket. There are some private companies that offer concierge-like services, including travel, accommodations, food and medical treatment for one price. No matter how the patient plans to travel to receive treatment, he or she is responsible for all of the costs.

Related: 5 Countries to Travel to Where the US Dollar Will Go a Long Way

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Risks

Just like having medical treatment here in the US, there are risks associated with traveling to another country for treatment. In some cases, there are even higher risks associated with medical care in a foreign country. Some risks involved include complications, infections, exposure to outbreaks and lack of post-treatment care.
 
Other risks include those associated with receiving treatment from a facility or doctor that does not meet the quality of standards needed for professional health care treatments. To help reduce the risks of being treated by a doctor or facility that is not properly trained or offers a clean facility, check with international healthcare accreditation organizations for certifications. These organizations certify various healthcare programs, including hospitals, care centers, doctors, medical transport services and more. They only certify those who meet a certain level of training and standards. In the U.S., you can check with the Joint Commission International, which helps provide international clients with consultant services for those seeking treatment elsewhere.

Related: How to Stay Safe Overseas

(credit: Shutterstock)

(credit: Shutterstock)


Extras
If time allows and the patient is well enough, he or she will be able to explore the city they are visiting for treatment. If you are traveling for medical treatment, ask your physician if it is possible to do some sightseeing while there. This will make the money spent on traveling feel like it was used for more than just getting medical treatment, and you get to see something new and exciting while there.
(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)


Tips

Those who plan to travel for medical treatment should consultant with someone who specializes in travel healthcare. He or she will be able to guide you to finding the right care facility, costs and help set up travel plans. Also, make sure to allow enough time to recover before traveling again. It may be necessary to abstain from flying or travel long distances for up to 10 days to two weeks after treatment or surgery.

No matter what the reason may be for needing to travel outside of the country for medical treatment, it is important to make sure you are able to afford the time away from home, the costs and know the risks associated with a medical vacation. If done properly, a medical vacation can mean you receive the treatment you need when you need it.

Heather Landon (Heather Leigh Carroll) is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.