If there’s one common belief that people hold about Asia, it’s that things are relatively cheaper here. It’s mostly true too. From street food in Vietnam to taxi rides in Thailand, this part of the world provides ample opportunities to get more bang for your buck. The same applies to healthcare – Asia has an extremely competitive market for medical tourism, especially as governments and healthcare sectors in places like Malaysia and Thailand seek to grow their presence in the market. Singapore has long had an excellent reputation for medical tourism, and can still be cheaper than seeking care in the US, but its Southeast Asian neighbours are now offering equitable care at more competitive prices. The team at Pacific Prime Singapore discusses the must-knows of getting medical treatment in Asia.
How much cheaper can it get?
People living in Singapore can count themselves fairly lucky. The country is home to one of the most efficient and advanced medical systems in the world, yet it still manages to have medical costs considerably lower than in the US. The standard and quality of care in neighbouring countries has also increased dramatically in the past decade. Thailand, for one, has long been considered the place to go for dental treatment, however its other medical services have also been brought up to speed.
When it comes to comparing costs, there may still be differences in the level of expertise offered as well as varying standards of care and comfort amongst the countries. Using 2016 data from MedicalTourism.com, the approximate costs of various procedures in the US and Asia are as follows:
These prices are approximate and do not include related costs such as air travel or accommodation, but they’re indicative of why an increasing number of people are choosing Asia for medical tourism.
What should I consider?
Getting treatment overseas doesn’t need to be scary, but it does require much thinking and planning. Here are some quick tips:
#1 Learn about accreditation
International standards are developed in every industry to ensure the safety and protection of consumers around the world. The Joint Commission International (JCI) is a major global accreditation body that many hospitals strive to be recognised by. When choosing an overseas facility, check its accreditations.
#2 Research, research, research
You can’t believe everything you read online, but you’ll find some useful information about hospitals, doctors and treatments. Research the facility you think you want to use, search for information about the doctor that may perform your procedure and seek out reviews of previous patients.
#3 Get a travel companion
Travelling alone can be risky, but travelling as a solo medical tourism patient can be dangerous. If anything happens, you’ll need someone you trust to help you make the best decisions for your health. They can also provide you with moral and physical support during your recovery.
#4 Consult your regular physician
Just because you’re seeking services in another country doesn’t mean you need to hide it from your doctor. Tell them in advance and they’ll be able to give you valuable advice on your options, as well as prepare you for the trip.
#5 Enjoy yourself responsibly
Another reason to seek medical care in Asia is that you can rest and recover in relative luxury, compared to what you might experience in your home country. Remember that recovery is an important part of your procedure. For example, don’t risk infection by swimming if you’ve had invasive surgery, avoid alcohol while on painkillers and reduce your sun exposure if you’re concerned about darkening scars.
#6 Consider a medical tourism agency
There are many companies that offer travel agency-type services to those considering healthcare abroad. If you’ll feel safer with an extra level of organisational support, consider engaging a medical tourism operator.
Finally, consider the whole cost of seeking treatment abroad. The treatment fees might be cheaper, but after factoring in flights and accommodation, would it still be financially wise?
Double check your medical coverage
Generally, standard health and travel insurance plans do not cover overseas elective medical treatments. Local health insurance likely won’t cover you for heading overseas to have a procedure done, but a local plan with international health benefits might. Go through your policy document carefully to find out if your plan covers medical tourism. If not, we recommend getting a specific plan designed for medical tourists.
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