Every year many Australians travel to other destinations seeking medical treatment options that are both more cost effective as well as quicker to access. Also referred to as medical tourism, the practice offers Australians the choice to travel to a hospital of their choice overseas and get the needed treatment there. For many this means forgoing long wait times and perhaps even spending less than what they would have to pay if seeking treatment in Australia.
Many of these destinations are close to home like India, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and South Korea. With advances in medical technologies, established facilities in these foreign locations can promise the same standard of health care as offered within Australia, yet at a fraction of the cost spent on domestically sought treatment.
A common example is the cost of seeking medical treatment for hip replacement surgery. In Australia the cost of such an operation could easily go up to around $23,000 whereas the same would be priced at $12,000 in Thailand and a mere $7,000 in India. Likewise a heart bypass would incur expenses of about $33,000 within Australia but f a patient were to travel to Singapore for the same, the cost would amount to $ 16,000 and $9,000 in India.
Others who decide to travel abroad for medical attention may be patients seeking hyperthermia treatment, a new cancer treatment enjoying success in European nations, those looking for non-cosmetic procedures such as orthopaedics, bariatric and laser eye surgery, fertility treatment or spinal and stem cell treatment options.
However, one needs to do the proper research before embarking on a journey to seek medical attention elsewhere.
Just as there are benefits of travelling abroad for medical treatment, there are also a number of associated risks. For instance not all foreign locations may offer the same standard of medical care as is offered in Australia. For some locations such as UK and Ireland, Australia has signed reciprocal health care agreements which allows Australian citizens and permanent residents access to free medical treatment in certain conditions whereas in Ireland the same can receive free emergency public hospital treatment.
In other European countries, some countries like Italy have a reciprocal health agreement with Australia while others like Germany will ask for health insurance confirmation or documentation stating that the individual has the funds to finance the treatment.
Closer to home locations like Fiji, Indonesia, Thailand and India may boast a less expensive price tag for their medical services but the big concern for patients should be the level of medical care provided, especially when there are recovery times involved. While certified and accredited medical facilities will have a higher standard of health care, many facilities may also demand a financial deposit or payment guarantee prior to the procedure.
To ensure that patients get the best treatment for their money’s worth, they are encouraged to get as much information about the facility of their choice, its operating staff as well as the medical indemnity insurance information. Arranging to meet with the operating surgeon can really help answer any questions or concerns the patient might have.
1) The cost of seeking medical attention abroad: http://www.allianz.com.au/travel-insurance/news/the-cost-of-seeking-medical-attention-abroad
2) Medical tourism: buyer beware: http://www.abc.net.au/health/features/stories/2011/07/28/3277842.htm
3) New Cancer treatment hope – hyperthermia: https://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunrise/factsheets/article/-/12400807/new-cancer-treatment-hope-hyperthermia/