Medical tourism is killing 2 birds with one stone (Decision scenarios)

Irina complained of 2 things that sunday afternoon – the bothering pain in the jaw and the longing to see her mother. She was our next door neighbor.

She was shocked to find out from the dentist down the street that it would cost over 7500 dollars for the dental care she needed.

She also missed her aging mother who lives in a town close to Kiev, Ukraine and wished to see her. Irina is ukrainian and had moved to US after marrying her american husband.

A light bulb turned on in my head. I said, “Let me ask you something Irina, What is the cost of having the same dental procedure in Ukraine?”. She replied, “at the most 500 dollars equivalent”.

Then I said, “a round-trip ticket to Ukraine should be around a 1000 dollars”, which she agreed.

“Would you like to see your mother”, I popped the question knowing well the answer. She said “of course”.

The Proposal

“Irina, you need to book a flight to Ukraine for a week. Go see your mother, have a good time and get your dental work done while you are there. And save yourself 6000 dollars” was my proposal to Irina from a friendly neighbor.

Her jaws dropped and she spurted out “Are you a genius or something”. I followed up with, “Since, I saved you 6000 dollars, when are you inviting us for dinner for an authentic ukrainian meal”. We laughed.

Connecting the dots..

I had either not heard about “medical tourism” or had not paid attention when I had that conversation with Irina atleast 5 years ago.

I will admit it felt good to be mistaken for a genius, like when Irina did. I was simply trying to be a good neighbor. In logically connecting the dots between two real-life problems to finding a solution – killing two birds with one stone.

It was not entirely a stroke of imagination, as I personally having done a similar thing while visiting my family in India and getting dental and other medical care while there for for a fraction of the cost of what it would have cost in US and with almost no waiting for appointment.

The interesting thing is it would still be a sizable  savings compared to out of pocket expenses in US, even if one has medical insurance.

Killing 2 birds with one stone

The fact you can travel abroad to get needed medical care and visit family and friends or just vacation while saving ‘significant’ money makes a lot of sense.

Traveling abroad for medical care is commonly known as medical tourism also is referred to as medical travel, health tourism or global healthcare. It is a growing industry especially with the cost of healthcare in US rising and high-quality and cost-effective medical care becoming assessable  around the world.

Today, there is a lot of growing word-of-mouth awareness with successful medical treatment stories, resources on the  internet and information from medical coordinators and insurance companies. The medical tourism industry has gotten a lot organized.

There are 3 scenarios related to combining medical care and vacation and/or personal travel:

  1. You are traveling abroad on vacation or other reasons, you decide to avail certain medical care while visiting and save money compared to what it would cost at home.
  2. You need to get some medical care for a pressing problem. Traveling abroad would save significant money. Why don’t I also fit in a much needed vacation or personal visit as well. 
  3. You have a certain medical condition where the biggest driver for going abroad is the significant cost savings and/or access to certain medical care not available locally. Vacationing is not your priority. 

Irina’s case was scenario#2. She needed to get medical care at a lower cost, while fulfilling her wish to see her mother.

My case would be scenario#1. As i shared earlier, me getting medical care while traveling to India for visiting family.

There are a lot of successful stories of ‘serious’ medical conditions such as MS, weigh-loss surgery, hip replacement, spinal surgery to name a few where patients travelled with the sole intent of getting medical care. That would be scenario #3.

Irrespective of one’s personal medical care need scenario identified earlier, there are now medical care choices available literally all around the globe that provide a compelling case for making the decision to travel to those locations to avail the medical services compared to what is available at home.

In my upcoming articles, I will share the important considerations and decision criteria for traveling abroad for medical care. Stay tuned by subscribing to my newsletter and grabbing the RSS feed.

Do you personally have or know of  someone who has medical care needs where traveling abroad could be a potential option? Ask a question and get personalized responses to help make a decision.

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