Medical Tourism: What to Ask Before Signing Up

Medical tourism is the process of traveling to another country for a medical treatment or procedure and has been popular in Europe for some time. The trend is gaining momentum in North American; in fact, over 500,000 Americans and 150,000 Canadians travel to other countries for medical help each year. Drawn to the concept of top-notch service, state-of-the-art facilities and a drastic price reduction, many more want to jump on the bandwagon. So, where do you go to sign up? You can’t just look up a qualified surgeon in the Slovenian phonebook. It is imperative to research any surgeon thoroughly. In fact, you are about to trust this person with your life, literally. To say that you cannot skimp on the investigation is an understatement. Run a Google search on the doctor, the procedure or medicine, the hospital even the recovery center. Look at every single entry that comes up. Look for scam alerts and bad reviews. Ask to see copies of medical licenses, college diplomas and then actually call the institutions and check to see if it is real. If this all seems like too much work for you just to save 80% off an elective surgery, consider going through a medical travel service. Many companies are popping up that cater to the medical tourism trade. Prepare a list of questions to ask, such as: 1. How long have you been in business? You want to hear at least several years. Do not expect 20 years as this is a newer field. 2. How many people work for your organization? What was their prior work experience? This will probably be a small number as well. You would want to hear that there is some type of medical professional on staff, a nurse or someone with experience in medical administration. 3. What type of licensing do you have? There may not be any licensing for this in their host country. Again, you are looking for experience and professionalism in the answers. 4. What type of research have you done on this facility, doctor or dentist? This answer should be that they know everything from the docs GPA to his favorite color and everything in between. 5. What organization are they accredited with and do you have that paperwork on file? This answer should be forthcoming and they should have copies of the most up-to-date information. 6. How many doctors, hospitals or dentists do you work with? If the person on the other end of the phone says one, move on. How can they give you a non-bias response if they only represent one facility or doctor? 7. How many successful fill-in-the-blank surgeries have you done with this hospital, doctor or dentist? Hopefully, a lot. 8. What percentage of your past clients were completely satisfied with their experience? Have high expectations with this response, if it is not 95% or higher, move on. This is surgery not a play at the local theatre. 9. May I contact any past clients directly? This answer should hopefully be yes, as well. Get phone numbers or email addresses and actually contact people. Again, it can't be emphasized enough that you are putting your life in a complete stranger's hands when you elect to do a surgery through medical tourism. It's worth the effort of a thoroughly researched plan before hopping that plan to the first option you find!


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