Although there are countless advantages and benefits to medical tourism, there are also a few disadvantages, dangers, and concerns of which you should be aware. Medical tourism is a trade-off, pure and simple. Although you might receive personalized attention, quality health care, convenience, affordable pricing, and a chance to experience a new culture, you occasionally sacrifice familiarity and certain legal guarantees.
1. Medical Malpractice Suits
Although most medical tourism facilities (hospitals, dental clinics, etc.) will have medical malpractice insurance to cover any unforeseen events, seeking damages can sometimes be difficult in cases of negligence, misdiagnoses, or incompetence. This is not to say that medical tourists have absolutely no legal recourse, but if you're looking for large cash settlements, you should probably stay in your home country. The laws of your country might not be any easier to decipher, but you will probably enjoy greater access to more transparent guidelines and regulations. For a more detailed discussion on legal issues surrounding health travel, please visit our Medical Tourism Malpractice & Liability section.
2. Insurance Laws May Vary
Depending on the type of insurance you have, and depending on the type of procedure you need, you might not be fully covered if you travel abroad. You'll want to check with your insurance carrier and see what portion of the final bill they're willing to cover.
In the past, medical tourism was largely relegated to the cosmetic surgery industry, and thus, insurance usually wasn't a major factor since elective procedures aren't normally covered. But increasingly, hospitals in medical tourism destinations like Thailand and India have begun offering life-saving medical procedures that your insurance company would probably cover back home. Make sure you have the facts first. To get started, please consult our Medical Tourism Insurance section.
3. Postoperative Treatments
For many procedures, it's customary to check in with your physician or dentist from time to time as you recuperate. However, by receiving treatment abroad, it becomes prohibitively expensive to consult with whatever doctor or dentist provided you with primary care. This is one reason why many medical tourists decide to recuperate while they are still abroad. Fortunately, many medical tourism destinations have excellent facilities to care for and entertain recovering patients. It's not uncommon to find medical tourists relaxing on the beaches of Phuket or Goa as they recuperate. But for procedures requiring longer recovery periods, you'll need to make postoperative arrangements on your own. This usually requires consulting a local physician or dentist in your hometown, in addition to whatever foreign health care provider supervised the original treatment.
4. It's Best Not to Travel Alone
Anytime you have major surgery done, it's always good to have a friend or family member present both during and after the procedure. When flying abroad to receive medical treatment, it's strongly recommended that you take someone with you. However, this necessarily drives up the total price of your medical vacation since you'll have to book flights and hotel reservations for at least two people.
5. Finding the Best Medical Facility Possible
When you shop around for hospitals and dental clinics in your neighborhood, you can easily visit them in person, check out the facilities, and meet with hospital staff. But with medical tourism, this type of in-person reconnaissance becomes a little harder to manage. We have tried our very best to provide contact information and background info for all of the medical facilities listed throughout this Web site, but the ultimate decision rests solely with you. By following the steps outlined in Planning a Medical Vacation, you can minimize the chances of selecting a medical facility that fails to meet your standards.