Travel and medicine: Benefits for patients when they travel for surgery

Why Do Patients Travel For Surgery?

 As medical costs rise, more and more patients are opting to travel for surgery instead of having surgery in their own country. People travel for a variety of surgeries including cosmetic surgery, knee and hip replacements, and other general medical surgeries, to name a few.

What is Medical Tourism?

This term refers to people traveling to another country for medical care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 750,000 Americans travel out of the country for medical care every year. The most common procedures that people travel for are heart surgery, dentistry and cosmetic surgery.

But why do people opt to leave their country of residence for medical care? Here are a few reasons that explain why patients travel for surgery.


The main reason why patients choose to go abroad for medical treatment is the low cost of medical procedures that can be found overseas. Savings can range between 30 and 80 percent of the cost they would otherwise pay in the United States.

Why is medical treatment so much lower in certain countries? In general, the popular medical tourism destinations are able to offer much cheaper treatment because their cost of labour is significantly lower. This may cause some people to be skeptical about the quality of treatment they will receive, but in most cases the doctors are trained experts equipped with the latest technology.

Patients Travel for Surgery to Avoid Long Waiting Lists

Although first-world countries such as England and Canada may offer skilled surgeons and quality healthcare, patients often have to wait a few months just to get a consultation. Many medical problems are time-sensitive. For example, patients with heart conditions will not be able to wait that long. Often, patients who travel for surgery receive the care they need much faster than they would back home – with travel time factored in.

Unhelpful Local Doctors

Some patients have been to several local doctors and specialists and have not received relief from their symptoms and conditions. When they feel that no local doctor will be able to help them, they start looking elsewhere. In order to receive the help they need, the inconvenience of travel becomes less of an issue if they know they will receive the treatment they require.

No Medical Insurance

Many medical tourists are patients who either do not have medical insurance in their country of residence, or medical insurance won’t sufficiently cover the cost of the procedure needed.

However, there are risks involved when patients choose to travel for surgery.

  • Language barriers. Communicating their problems at a treatment facility where they do not speak the same language can lead to misunderstandings and can create more problems.
  • Poor quality medication. The dosage or quality of medication may not be the same.
  • Blood clots. Flying too soon after surgery puts patients at risk of developing blood clots

Precautions should always be taken if a patient chooses to travel for surgery. Some of these precautions include researching the health care provider they choose, researching what legal action is available to them if the procedure goes wrong, and carrying copies of medical records before and after the surgery.

If done correctly, medical tourism has many benefits to offer patients who are unable to locally receive the treatment they require.


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