Medical travel can be rewarding and complicated at the same time. On one hand, you can get treated and feel better faster, on the other, you have to manage all the logistics and risks. Below are the untrue medical tourism facts and why they are such. You can make an informed decision about your health.
I have to fly across the globe to get a surgery
This one is really your choice. You can fly across the globe – let’s say from Canada to India if that is what you find to be the best possible care at the best possible price for you. However, we advise doing a thorough research of the procedure. While it is true that some countries far away excel at a certain surgery, you will most likely find a similar, if not lower price within 4h flight from you. In fact, many Canadians can drive to a facility to receive private health care. Hiring a medical facilitator will pay off if you chose an agency with transparent pricing policy to do the job for you.
My doctor will be mad at me for going someplace else
According to our experience, it is highly unlikely. Most, if not all, Canadian doctors are aware of the waitlist situation and are sympathetic. In fact, Canadian physicians are encouraged to take steps to minimize the risks that medical tourism may present. The guidelines to follow from Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) are as follows:
- Physicians should respect patients’ autonomy in seeking out-of-country procedures and other decisions regarding their healthcare.
- Where appropriate, physicians should try to address to the best of their ability and knowledge questions from patients who are considering care abroad. They can also help patients minimize health risks associated with travel to certain countries.
- Doctors should keep the lines of communication with patients open. For example, you could ask them to provide information about the medical treatment abroad, including their foreign medical record, and ensure the transfer of records is complete.
- Be mindful of the patient’s need for follow-up care upon returning to Canada, including emergent care. Physicians should consider the urgency of the treatment required and their ability to provide information and follow-up care to the best of their ability and within the limits of their clinical knowledge.
I will not get the same quality of care as I can at home
This could not be further from the truth. Many surgeons and doctors working abroad were trained in the U.S., and have returned to their home countries to provide care to both local populations and medical tourists. However, depending on where you are going, you may have to do more research.
The USA and Canada follow very similar medical school and training requirements. They are in fact the only two countries where an MD from USA and Canada can establish practices in either country without undergoing a re-certification. It is a unique arrangement and speaks highly of both countries’ medical education.
If you venture beyond those two countries, you will have to do a bit more research. Ensure that you check the doctor’s education and certifications as well as hospital accreditations. We wrote a blog on how to select your medical doctor and facility and encourage you to read it to get a better understanding of what is involved.
I have no legal recourse if something goes wrong
Any civilized country will have a law when it comes to pursuing legal action against a medical facility or doctor if something goes wrong. You are probably only familiar with the law in your country. The medical malpractice law in a country states who makes the decision, how you will be compensated and who will be paying the legal costs. A couple of things to mention:
- Litigation costs in the US are twice those in other countries. Half of US payments go to legal costs rather than compensating patients
- Other than the US, few other countries allow cases to be decided by jurors. Most use judges or administrative procedures to determine liability.
- Canada and the United Kingdom impose caps on pain and suffering awards.
- Most European countries prohibit contingency fees. The United States uses contingency fees.
- Canada, Europe and Australia all have loser-pays provisions in their medical malpractice systems. The US does not.
- Sweden’s average award for 2004: $22,000. US median award for 2005: $400,000 with 21% of awards being more than $1 million.
- Internists in Canada pay between $1800 and $3200 per year for malpractice insurance. Internists in Cook County and Madison County, Illinois pay more than $41,000 per year.
The discussion of various countries malpractice laws is beyond the scope of this short blog. However, we can say that there are resources available to you if you have the time and desire to learn more.
My personal medical information is not safe
Medical facilities must follow a medical and personal information law in their country. The nations of the Western world have similar perspectives toward privacy rights. In the US, that is HIPAA, and it is a very strict law when it comes to your records. European Union’s (EU’s) Directive on Data Protection and Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) regulate patient records and other sensitive information. If you are unsure about the privacy laws in the country of your intended travel, ask your medical facilitator.
If you are curious about traveling abroad for a procedure or surgery reach out to us. We offer a complimentary 1h consultation. Toll free 1877 344 3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org