Medical Tourism: What it is, and Why You Should Utilize it

What is medical tourism?

“Medical Tourism is a growing concept worldwide where people travel to another country for medical treatment at lower cost or to enjoy a vacation along with their treatment.”

WikiVoyage

The idea of having a dental, surgical or cosmetic procedures done overseas, rather than in your home country, has been around for quite sometime. But as of late, it’s becoming increasingly popular. With the extraordinary costs of medical services in the western world, those who don’t have insurance coverage are opting to take their business abroad.

These days, people are deciding where in the world they want to vacation, based on what medical procedures they need to have done! Need a teeth cleaning, root canal, or new crowns put on your teeth? Head to Mexico or Thailand where the costs are very low, and the dentists are reputable.

*Update 2017: If you’re looking to visit the dentist while in Thailand, check out Thantakit International Dental Center in Bangkok. We recently had our teeth cleaned and had two cavities filled. The dentists here are trained overseas (in particular, mine went to school in Germany) and are very professional. The office was clean and the overall experience was a positive one. In fact, our friend, Johnny, is in the middle of his Invisalign procedure with them and he too recommends Thantakit.

medical tourism thailand dentist

Do you need heart surgery and don’t want to be on long waiting lists, or can’t afford the bill? Travel to Bangalore, India, which has the largest heart surgery hospital in the world, with UK trained doctors. The recovery rates here are comparable with, or better than, those in the USA or UK.

As a bonus, those are all great countries to visit!

medical tourism medigo
Imagine holidaying in Thailand after you had $270 crowns put on your teeth!

In Canada, (even though its residents have full medical coverage) dental, optometry and cosmetic procedures are not included in the standard healthcare, unless you have extended insurance through your work. And even when you do have extended coverage, only a certain portion of the cost of teeth or eye procedures is covered. The price of a simple teeth cleaning varies from clinic to clinic, but the insurance only covers a set amount, which means you could end up paying extra money on top of what is covered by your insurance.

As an example, a basic exam and teeth cleaning at a downtown Calgary office in Canada costs around $350 – $550, without any extended insurance coverage. The same teeth cleaning in Cancun, Mexico costs 790 Pesos ($65 CAD). In Thailand it’s 597 Thai Baht ($23 CAD) and in Costa Rica a teeth cleaning costs 21,420 Costa Rican Colon ($50 CAD).

Needless to say, many Albertans are choosing to take their dental business south to the nearby country of Mexico!

Ok, so you know you want to take your business abroad, but the question becomes:

“How do I find a reputable, safe doctor overseas?”

Recently, we’ve been introduced to a fantastic website called Medigo.com. This site lists various hostpitals and clinics all over the world from Turkey to Thailand. Independent reviews are given on the site from actual people who have had a personal experience from that clinic or hospital. The doctors are all credible and this site has been featured on CNN, The Daily Mail and The Guardian.

medigo medical tourism

Since we don’t have healthcare coverage from Canada anymore (oh how we miss Nick’s amazing insurance package from his old job!), we’re mindful of where we have our treatments done abroad. We want a clinic that’s hygienic, has professional doctors, and since the money is now coming out of our own pockets, it must be affordable!

When we were in Cancun just a month ago, we decided that would be the place to get a much needed teeth cleaning done. We checked out Medigo’s site and found Dentalia, a chain of dentist offices around Mexico, it looked and sounded good, so we decided to give them a try.

medigo
Medigo is a popular online search engine for doctors around the world

We were greeted by a bubbly woman named Beatrice, who spoke perfect English. The office was immaculate and the equipment was brand new. Nick went one way for his check-up with Dr. Porfirio and I went upstairs for mine with Dr. Velazquez. Nick’s dentist spoke quite a bit of English, while mine knew a few key words.

Between my basic Spanish and his basic English, we were able to communicate. However, when I couldn’t understand what he was saying, Beatrice came in the room and acted as translator – one of the many services this office provides to its clients, along with a complementary airport pick-up.

I’m always a bit nervous when it comes to the dentist, but the doctor was very gentle. It turned out that I had 3 cavities, while Nick had none! The check-up, the cleaning, the x-rays and the fillings were all simple and easy. I’ve had some painful dental experiences in the past, but at this office, I even opted to have 2 of the fillings done without any numbing or anesthetic.

Dr. Velazquez promised that it wouldn’t hurt, so rather than walking around with a limp face, unable to eat for a few hours, he suggested we try it, but if I said it hurt too much, he’d stop and administer the numbing needle.

dentalia cancun dentist
The dental office was clean and the doctor was professional

I didn’t feel a thing. I couldn’t believe it. Me, the girl who has a very low pain tolerance didn’t need any anesthetic for two cavity fillings!

Our experience in Mexico at this clinic was a very positive one and we would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for affordable dental care overseas. Here’s a picture of the prices of some of this clinic’s procedures:

dentalia dentist prices
The prices are much cheaper than in Canada or the States – note the big price is pesos, not dollars!

Still not convinced to have a procedure done abroad? Check out this list of top countries around the world for medical tourism. Many of which are great for cosmetic procedures too.

It may seem scary to visit the doctor or dentist in a country other than your own, in a place where your language isn’t spoken. However, in most of the major hospitals and clinics around the world, many of the doctors will speak English, and even more have been trained in western countries such as the USA, Canada or the UK.

Do your research and look for reviews online before settling on a clinic and you’ll be fine. The amount of money you’ll save by having a treatment done abroad will be worth the flight, plus, you’ll get to go on vacation 🙂

What do you think? Is having a dental or surgical procedure done abroad a risky thing? Have you ever visited a hospital or clinic overseas? What was the experience like?

A special thanks to Medigo for providing us with a very overdue teeth cleaning, which ultimately led to the finding of cavities! As always, all thoughts and opinions remain our own, despite any complimentary services received. 

 

Medical Tourism-

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Written by

Dariece Swift

Dariece is a co-founder of Goats On The Road, and an expert in saving money, finance management, building an online business and of course... travel. She loves meeting new people, trying new cuisines, and learning about the unique cultures of our world. She has over 10 years of experience helping others to realize their travel dreams and has worked in numerous jobs all over the world to help pay for travel. Her advice about long-term travel, remote work, and location independence has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider and Forbes. Learn more about Dariece Swift on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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