Medical tourism is increasingly becoming a lucrative option for individuals who want to travel overseas for medical treatments in a bid to enjoy lower costs, better healthcare standards, lesser waiting times and an exotic holiday to boot.
Many talk about the manifold benefits of medical tourism and view it as the life saver for many critically ill patients who are stifled by skyrocketing healthcare costs and exceedingly long waiting periods. However, some are skeptical about the industry and its practices, urging individuals to do their groundwork before opting for medical tourism. As such, here are some of the pros and cons of medical tourism and the effects of the same on existing healthcare systems.
The Expected Pros
When compared to developed countries like the U.S. and UK where waiting lines for specific medical procedures can stretch on for years on end, the waiting time for the same procedures in developing countries is minimal, thus allowing the patient to gain access to timely medical care.
A standard medical procedure in a country like India can cost just a fraction of what it would cost in the U.S. This way, patients can end up saving money when opting for treatment overseas.
High Quality Standards
The majority of medical tourism destinations have internationally accredited medical facilities with the latest medical equipment and technology. They also house well qualified doctors, nurses and other medical personnel, thus ensuring that the patient is in safe hands.
Medical tourism packages always come with a holiday clubbed with the treatment. This way, patients can enjoy a peaceful holiday in a foreign destination during treatment and the ensuing recovery period.
Of course, medical tourism does not come without its share of disadvantages that could very well doubt its effectiveness in supplementing a nation’s existing health care system. These include:
There is no way for a medical tourist to know in detail the destination and healthcare facility that he/she is visiting unless via the internet which is unfortunately, crowded with misleading information. Hence, it is very easy for the patient to get misled into accepting treatment from a substandard hospital or facility without proper care or support.
Money laundering agencies
A number of medical tourism companies have cropped up over the years, promising to help medical tourists gain access to treatments in several destinations. Not all of these agencies are licensed and genuine though, and it is very easy for patients to get cheated of their hard earned money.
Some procedures have not been patented, but are still offered in several countries. Fertility procedures are always risky and cause harmful side effects if not done properly. Individuals opting for these procedures need to do so as volunteers for research based studies. As such, the outcomes can be highly unreliable and can cause permanent health issues.
Governments looking to diminish costs could very well adopt medical tourism as a standard supplement to the established health care system. However, one would have to weigh the pros and cons carefully before adopting it as a common practice.
Medical tourism is on the rise with many governments advocating it to be a more lucrative supplement to existing healthcare systems. However, the pros and cons of the industry would need to be carefully analyzed before promoting it on a grand scale.