Main Medical Tourism Destinations

Main Medical Tourism Destinations

Here are the main destinations for the medical tourist adressed on my site, with the summary of the available treatments as well as travels tips for each of those countries.


Argentina has a level of excellence in medical care, procedures, treatments and technology which is equal to US and European standards with nonetheless much lower prices. It has a solid reputation for plastic surgery since the country’s economic crisis, as the devaluation of the peso makes aesthetic enhancement very affordable to foreigners.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has an impressive health systems. Quality of health care here is comparable to North America or Europe, but rates easily 50% less. Medical tourism is an important source of income for Costa Rica. This destination is especially known for its great dental and plastic surgery care.


Cuba has a growing reputation for medical and therapeutic treatments, at costs significantly lower than in North America and Europe and for providing a network of hospitals, clinics and spas targeted toward foreign visitors, with dedicated hotel facilities. Medical services for foreigners are one of the big income sources of Cuba, as this country has the best health industry in Latin America, at extremely reasonable prices.


Since joining the EU, Hungary and Poland have seen a surge in medical tourism. Interesting for dental care. Less cheap than Asian or South American countries but much closer for Europeans.


India will certainly become the healthcare destination of the world, its two main great advantages being highly skilled manpower and substantially lower cost of treatment.


The kingdom of Jordan has recently decided to develop “medical tourism” and aspires to become a regional health care center.


Very affordable destination for cosmetic surgery, infertility treatments, and dentistry. What makes it attractive also is the fact that the patients can recuperate in Lithuania’s beautiful resorts on the Baltic Sea.


The medical care sector in Malaysia is heavily supported by the government. Malaysia, like Thailand has the particularity to offer an exceptional environment. Patients there will be able to enjoy a combination of sunshine and health care.


The next “hot spot” for the medical tourist! The private Raffles Hospital in Singapore has recently slashed its prices for a handset of common operations 10 standard operations and procedures ranging from having a baby and treating a cataract to undergoing a heart bypass. The goal is to to lure tourists and expatriates seeking inexpensive health care. More clinics and hospitals are following this example. The excellence of Singapore’s health care professionals is now challenging the neighboring countries of Malaysia and Thailand with competitive prices and high-quality medical services. Singapore aims to be the pre-eminent centre for health care in the Asia-Pacific to attract patients from within the region, and from around the globe.

South Africa

With spectacular tourist destinations and favorable exchange rate, South Africa attracts foreigners for its affordable operations and luxurious post-operative holidays. Blood transfusions, cardiology, addiction treatment, cosmetic surgery, gastrointestinal and infertility treatments are some of the many procedures on offer.


Thailand offers a wide variety of major surgery options and treatments. Specialized among others in cosmetic dentistry (laser teeth whitening) and laser sight correction (LASIK). Destination especially recommended for people requiring sex reassignment surgery.

Important tips for travel

A crucial point when talking about medical tourism is that we will easily find a plane ticket for less than € 500-700 for any of the usual destinations needed in our quest for the ideal treatment. It seems so evident, but many people are still booking awfully expensive flights with traditional agencies.

Always use the internet! You will quickly find the cheapest tickets after a bit research on the main discount flights websites at prices that would have been amazing still a few years ago.

During the 3 last years, I’ve always traveled for less than € 600. And when talking with my neighbors in the plane, I often found out that they had paid until the double, or sometime 3 or 4 times that price for the same place in the same plane!

Note that most of the time, One-way and Round-trip tickets are offered at the same price.

My personal advice would be the following: concentrate yourself on finding the cheapest flight. Here is where you can save money that could be saved for either a better accomodation or additional services on site.

Don’t be close to your money when it comes to the hotel. Each dollar/euro you will spend more for the accomodation will give you additional services/confort. On the opposite, a flight in economic class will be the same, whether you purchase it $500 or $2000.

Being Aware of the Legal Issues and Risks Involved in Medical Tourism

Being Aware of the Legal Issues and Risks Involved in Medical Tourism

Healthcare has become a global concern. In a competitive global market where information is shared instantly, consumers have all the knowledge and choices at their disposal. The internet enables the patients to seek out the best service providers, to make comparisons by themselves or to find out brokers and specialist services.

But it’s not only all about providing better health care. It’s about business and commerce. There is a huge amount of commercial interest driving this trend, rather than health care interests.

We come from a culture of people expecting the government to provide health care, as we transition from a country where the private sector is playing such an important role.

Thus, there is a risk that if we lose sight of the practice of medicine as in part a humane discipline, a morally driven discipline, and if we look at the practice of medicine only as another market opportunity, then there will be values that will be lost.

There will also be a change in the nature of the doctor-patient relationship. If the doctor simply becomes somebody who says “Right, you’ve done all your internet research, you know all the options, what do you want me to do?”, adopts that sort of stand-back role and lays out the array of goods, rather than acts in the traditional protective, almost paternalistic relationship with the patient, guiding and showing care for the patient, then there is a real change about in the nature of the doctor-patient relationship. We could wonder whether it will be the patient who gains the most from that.

Personal Health Risks

The medical treatment is carried out and after a usually brief period of recuperation the patient, having recovered, travels home. This may be acceptable for cosmetic surgery or basic dental treatment but not in the case of illnesses where recovery is dependent upon long term medical attention and extensive after-care. In many cases it is advisable for the after-care to be in the hands of doctors and assistants who have been well acquainted with the patient’s history for some time

There is little follow-up care. The patient usually is in hospital for only a few days, and then goes on the vacation portion of the trip or returns home. Complications, side-effects and post-operative care are then the responsibility of the medical care system in the patients’ home country.

Another prerequisite is that the costs should be shared between the health insurance scheme in the home country and by other comparable institutions. This is not always the case, because the health schemes only give their approval if they can be sure that the services provided are of an equivalent standard. Another requirement is that invoices must be clear and in accordance with the health insurance organisations’ rules, and capable of withstanding close scrutiny. And finally, as the contractual partners of professional medical organisations and hospital associations, the health insurance schemes in the patient’s home country sometimes find themselves under considerable pressure.

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery lists half a dozen reasons why “you may want to think twice about traveling for your cosmetic surgery,” ranging from the inadvisability of sunbathing during post-surgical recovery to the potential difficulty of finding a doctor back home who is willing to handle complications of a surgery he or she did not perform.

All of which is to say that medical tourism — indeed, any surgery or other invasive medical procedure — is not to be undertaken lightly. If you want or need a medical procedure that might be performed less expensively or more quickly overseas, do your homework — especially when it comes to the accreditation and quality standards of hospitals you are considering and the training and certification of doctors who would treat you.

Before planning a trip, there are several things to keep in mind: — Realize that you may not feel up to doing much after the procedure. Although some packages include activities, doctors say many patients should refrain from exercising or participating in other activities for days afterward:

–Forget sunbathing by the pool. After many plastic surgeries, you’ll have to avoid the sun until your skin has healed.

–Find out when it’s safe to fly home afterward. Many doctors discourage air travel after surgery for fear of health risks that include deep-vein thrombosis on long-haul flights.

–Have a plan for follow-up care. You may want to ask the surgeon to refer you to a colleague near your home who can treat you.

Otherwise, if post-surgical problems arise, many U.S. doctors may be reluctant to take on the consequences of a surgery they did not perform.

Medical Insurance and Legal Issues

Many of the countries involved in this business have weak malpractice lawsso there’s little opportunity for recourse should anything go wrong. Since follow-up care is minimal, patients must deal with any complications or side effects on their return home.

Critics also argue that it’s very difficult for patients to evaluate the credentials of doctors or the quality of surgical facilities in other countries. And they warn that patients may struggle to find follow-up care if problems arise after they return home. They also pint that the administration and services in developing countries sometimes do not fulfill the necessary conditions and that the implications could be detrimental to the health insurance schemes responsible for meeting the costs of treatment. In many cases the amounts available to meet these costs are somewhat opaque and not standardized, and private clinics charge a variety of rates without adequate substantiation. In both a medical and an economic sense, health insurers and clinics see problems in relying on short-term treatment abroad, which may necessitate preliminary and after-care in the patient’s home country, possibly at considerable expense.

People who travel across borders for surgery must be protected from negligence or malpractice or false advertising concerns brokers and insurance agents. So far, the industry of facilitating patients to other hospitals around the world, without giving medical advice, isn’t still very regulated at this time. This issue will probably be addressed in a near future.

There are large regulatory issues involved. Part of the problem is the unwillingness of health insurance companies (and politicians) to take it seriously. Legal issues abound: what happens if there are complications, what happens with extended stays in the hospitals, what happens if you die? If something goes wrong, can you sue? Many countries don’t have the protective legal systems westerners are used to yet. There is no international regulationconcerning this area of international trade. What is the legal status? is, we don’t really know.

Complications do arise in any potential operation that is undertaken. You can’t guarantee that health care and the sequelle to operations are always going to run smoothly, there will always be issues about problems that arise. And how one deals with those on a patient who, let’s say, has made a contract with a company or a broker in London to travel to Johannesburg for surgery, to travel on to another country for recuperative holiday and such like, and something goes wrong in the operation itself? Trying to resolve these legal issues really is going to become a quite fundamental issue over the next 10 or 15 years

And of course it’s going to differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. It may even differ from where the patient comes from. You can have a hip replacement in India, or heart surgery in Dubai, or dental work in Malaysia, but you may find it hard to get insurance, or a legal comeback if you’re badly treated.

One way of overcoming such problems would be in the form of joint ventures involving physicians and hospitals in various countries, in order to facilitate the coordination between health insurers, medical needs and the possibilities offered by medical tourism. In this way some of the current objections could be eliminated.

Such collaboration could enable the provision of long-term medical care in accordance with the same performance standards, provided that this is preceded by an accurate exchange of data. Independent monitoring of performance and success eliminates the risk of disputes about the cost of treatment and the settlement of liability issues. Joint ventures between companies would provide an accurate division of labour and reduced costs. This is in the interests of all concerned. Moreover such long-term forms of collaboration enable suppliers in developing countries to unlock commercial possibilities in the industrialied nations which could not be replicated in any other way.

While promoters of medical tourism focus on the attractive costs, prepaid pampering, and glamorous side trips that accompany overseas surgeries, opting for foreign medical care is not without its risks. In the event of complications after the trip, uninsured patients are on their own and those covered by national health systems fall back on the systems in place in their native lands. One factor lowering the cost of foreign medical care is often weak malpractice laws, leaving patients who suffer bad results with little recourse.

An obvious answer to all this is accreditation. This only will ensure transparency in the way a hospital performs, and everything from the operating to the cleaning procedures will be monitored, audited and recorded. With an aim to boost the much talked about medical tourism, many corporate hospitals in India are looking to international agencies such as JCAHO/JCI for accreditation. Accreditation will even make tie ups with overseas health insurance agenciessuch as BUPA and CHUBS easier to route patients to India.

As the medical tourism industry is growing exponentially and with public health systems near collapse, governments and private players will need anyway to join hands in order to act as a catalyst to build infrastructure for hospitals, create specialty tourist packages to include medical treatment, promote accreditation and standardisation, enable access and tie-ups with insurance companies, provide state of art facilities and improve quality of in-patient care and service to meet the requirements of foreign patients and to attain sustainable competitive advantage.

Though the benefits that medical tourism has to offer both patients and host countries may seem highly appealing, many disagree with a number of the fundamental and economical merits of the idea. Critics argue that medical and healthcare services should not be something that is simply sold off the shelf to the lowest bidder.

Medical Insurances

Medical Insurances

There are very few medical insurers who will let you take your insurance cover to another country. Government and basic medical insurance, and sometimes extended medical insurance, often does not pay for the medical procedure, meaning the patient has to pay cash.

That’s why the majority of patients going overseas for surgery at the moment are self-financing. Those who have private medical insurance are usually only able to use their payout at approved hospitals which, at the moment anyway, are mostly within their home country.

But it is in the private sector that the effects of health tourism are likely to be most deeply felt. The insurance companies too, are watching developments keenly, and the overall effect of cheaper prices in developping countries could wellpush bills for private medicine down in the medium term.

Meanwhile, going abroad is likely to become more and more acceptable. And it won’t just be for operations. People will increasingly think of combining a general health check with a beach holiday, and companies looking after overstressed execs are already thinking in terms of combining a health check with a spa or seaside hotel overseas.

Government interference in free market and health care is at an all time low in the world. Unable to depend on state health care systems many people in many parts of the world now have to resort to their private resources for the operations and medical treatments they need. Private health care in the west is notoriously expensive, for some, prohibitively so. Even commonplace medical areas like dentistry and orthodontics are extortionately priced, while surgery and major operations can completely drain personal finances. Given the costs, and the stakes, many people have looked beyond the shores of their native homelands to find cost-effective solutions.

Privilegy Private International Medical Insurance

United States health insurance policies generally do not cover members while traveling outside of the United States.  Those few policies that do provide coverage during international travel exclude the cost of obtaining and translating medical records, language translations for billing and patient care issues, and currency translations.  For this reason most Americans traveling outside the United States are advised to obtain separate international medical insurance for their trip that seamlessly handles all of these issues. This is true also for most EU citizens.

Generally, anyone healthy enough to travel is eligible for international medical insurance.  You could generally see the specific eligibility questions on the online application forms of the medical insurance companies websites.

However, Pre-existing medical conditions are not covered in the medical insurance plans. Maternity expenses are not covered.  Expenses that are not “medical expenses” are often not covered (for example dental expenses are not medical expenses, so be careful when choosing your insurance!)

Expenses that you voluntarily opt for that are not prescribed by a doctor man not meet the “ordinary and necessary standard”.  For example, you might discover that a weekly spinal manipulation helps your golf game and eases back pain, but this might not meet the standard of “ordinary and necessary”.

When an insurer cannot easily determine whether an expense is “ordinary and necessary” then often the policy states that only a limited benefit is covered.  For example, outpatient counseling is usually limited to a specific dollar amount and number of visits.  This limitation does not mean that you can be cured for that specified number of medical visits, but rather that the insurer is limiting its financial responsibility to that dollar amount. 

What is a pre-existing medical condition?

A pre-existing medical condition is a health issue that started before your current insurance.  Usually this is evidenced by notations in your medical records.  Examples of medical expenses frequently not covered as pre-existing medical conditions are long term prescription drugs and seasonal allergy treatments.

How much does it cost?

Premiums are usually much less than other types of coverage but will vary by location, sex, age, length of coverage and method of payment. So it is impossible to list rates for everyone here on the Web site.  But generally these plans cost about half the price of traditional medical insurance. Premium rates are calculated online for most plans.

Are all insurance companies reputable?

It is important to realize that health insurance companies have a slightly different scale of ratings from third party rating services than life insurance companies.  This is due to the inherent differences between health insurance and life insurance.  For example, an A. M. Best rating of A+ is considered the “standard” for the best life insurance companies but an A. M. Best rating of A- is considered the highest rating for health insurance companies since health insurance companies are generally not eligible for an A+ rating de to the nature of the market and the universal practices of the health insurance industry.

Treatment Types

Treatment Types

Breast Augmentation  (Hospital stay – 1 night/Recovery – 7 days)

Breast Lift Surgery (Hospital Stay – 2 nights/Recovery – 10 days)

Breast Reduction(Hospital stay – 2 nights/Recovery – 10 days)

Brow Lift- Forehead(Hospital Stay – 1 night/Recovery – 10 days)

Calf Augmentation(Hospital Stay – 1 night/Recovery – 10 days)

Cataract Surgery(Hospital stay – 1 night/Recovery – 3 days) 

Excimer Laser Vision Correction (Hospital Stay – 1 night/Recovery – 3 days)

Cheek Augmentation (Hospital Stay – 1 night/Recovery – 5 days)

Ear Surgery – Otoplasty(Hospital Stay – 1 night/Recovery – 7 days)

Eyelid Surgery – Blepharoplasty (Hospital Stay – 1 night/Recovery – 5 days)

Face-lift(Hospital Stay – 2 nights/Recovery – 14 days)

Laser Resurfacing Full Face(Hospital Stay -1 day/Recovery – 10 days)

Laser Resurfacing Ageing Hands(Hospital Stay – 1 day/Recovery – 10 days)

Lip Augmentation (Hospital Stay – 1 day/Recovery -1 day)

Liposuction(Hospital stay – 1 night/Recovery – 10 days)

Phakic Intraocular Implants (Hospital stay – 1 night/Recovery – 3 days)

Rhinoplasty (Nose surgery) (Hospital stay – 1 night/Recovery – 7 days)

Tummy tuck (Abdominoplasty)(Hospital Stay – 2 nights/Recovery – 12 days)

A few descriptions/definitions


Also known as Botulinum Toxin, which is used in minute doses to paralyse certain unwanted muscles of expression, such as glabella frown lines and horizontal forehead lines. It is also used to great effect in the treatment of crows feet.

The procedure lasts several months, but many treatments may cause the muscle to weaken sufficiently to give a long lasting effect.


Also known as Hyaluronic acid, which is produced in a more viscous injectable form.

The treatment lasts approximately a year and can is used primarily for filling of the lips. It can also be used to alter contour deformities in the face and to fill deep wrinkle lines such as the naso-labial folds and corners of the mouth.


Also known as Hyaluronic acid, which occurs normally in the body. It is safe and is used to fill out wrinkle lines – especially the eyelid, lips and nasal labial fold areas. Restylane lasts anywhere from 3 –6 months.



Filling trays are made to fit your bite, which do not allow the bleach to touch the gums. The gel that goes in the tray contains peroxide of an effective strength

Power Whitening

Power whitening is the latest technology in teeth whitening. The laser like light is simply a source of concentrated, light energy. A special whitening gel is placed in the teeth and then activated by the laser like light. It works quickly and gently to whiten the areas of stained enamel.

Crown (CAP)

A crown is a cemented restoration that covers or replaces the crown of a natural tooth. It reproduces the morphology (shape) and contours of the original tooth. A crown replaces the missing tooth structure so as to allow protection of the tooth to further damage, and enhances the aesthetics.

Veneer (Facing)

If only a portion of the tooth is replaced by porcelain as ceramic, this is referred to as a veneer. Veneers may be used to modify tooth shape, size, color, position, at the same time preserving most of the tooth structure, as minimal preparation of the tooth is needed in most cases.


This is a fixed prosthetic appliance, permanently attached to the teeth adjacent to the missing teeth. A bridge, bridges the “gap” where a tooth bas been removed.

Dental Implants

Dental implantsare used to replace missing teeth, for both aesthetic reasons and function. An implant is a cylindrical or tapered screw – shaped object manufactured from titanium. Bone can adhere to titanium ( a process known as Osseo integration) which facilitates anchoring the implant to bone.


Dentures are artificial teeth that replace missing teeth. Dentures may be removes by the patient.


Suggested countries:

Visiting the dentist is the newest and fastest-growing area of medical tourism, where costs are often not covered by basic insurance and by only some extended insurance policies. India, Thailand and Hungary attract especially patients who want to combine a filling, extraction or root canal with a vacation.


Cataract Surgery

Modern Cataract surgery is performed under topical anaesthetic eye-drops, (no needles), and most patients are ready to leave the clinic within one hour.

Phaco-emulsification techniques (high frequency ultrasound) are used to remove the cataracts and state of the art implants are inserted into the eye for clear distance focus. No sutures are required for this micro surgical procedure. Most patients have significant and independent vision within 2 days of surgery. There is no contra-indication to air travel after surgery.

Excimer Laser Vision Correction

Both LASIK and PRK refractive surgery techniques are performed to treat a large range of refractive errors viz.
+1 to +4.00 Hyperopia (farsightedness)
-1 to -12.00 Myopia (short-sightedness)
-0.75 to -8.00 Astigmatism

The surgery is performed to both eyes under local anaesthetic eye drops and takes approximately 8 minutes per eye. Most patients are comfortable within 2 hours post-surgery and achieve about 95% of their pre-operative best-corrected spectacle or contact lens vision the next morning.

Phakic Intraocular Implants

For those patients who have extreme refractive errors and in whom Excimer Laser treatment is not suitable, Phakic Implants are indicated. Intraocular lenses (made out of the same highly specialized plastic material as implants for cataract surgery) are placed into the eyes to treat poor vision. We can successfully treat +4.00 to >+10.0 (farsighted) and –12.00 to –36.00 (myopia).

Surgery is performed to both eyes either using local anaesthetic eye drops or (if requested) under general anaesthetic. Post-operatively, the eyes are covered with a clear plastic shield for protection. Vision returns to approximately 95% of pre-operative best corrected vision within a few days.

Medical Holidays Service Providers

Medical Holidays Service Providers

For many people thorough the world, medical tourism is still a totally new concept, and for the others, they were used, until recently, to prepare themselves their trip and find themselves their doctor and hospital. For most patients, initial fears about language difficulties and the logistics of traveling overseasare allayed by linking up with a company experienced in putting health trips together.

The global wave of medical tourism sees the apparition of new, internet-based companies that are not health specialists but facilitators, brokers between the international patient and the hospital networks. A medical broker is someone who operates as a middleman who, for a fee, will act as a go-between to find the best deal for your personal needs.

The global wave of medical tourism sees the apparition of new, internet-based companies that are not health specialists but facilitators, bro
Medical Tourism brokers sell whole medical tourism “packages”  that may be of help to the hesitating patient who wish to jump the step in all safety for him and/or his family. The final cost may of course be a bit higher, due to the fees these companies take for their prestations. This sort of solutions will certainly know a great success in the future, as they permit to avoid any hassle for what deserves now to be called the customers of these all-in-one solutions. kers between the international patient and the hospital networks. A medical broker is someone who operates as a middleman who, for a fee, will act as a go-between to find the best deal for your personal needs.

Medical tourism brokers combine world class medical procedures with first class luxury leisure packages to create a truly unique and affordable health + vacation experience complete with accommodations, personal assistants and other amenities. While surgeons, clinics and hotels are carefully chosen for their expertise, reputation and quality of services, clients take though ultimate responsibility for their choices.

Each client’s needs are different, so they adopt a completely personalised approach. They work extremely closely with each individual client, providing tailor-made packages to address their unique needs and, at the same time, they guarantee their personal safety and privacy.

(For a year or two, the travel agents and the tour operators, are also starting to advertise largely medical-tourism-related products. They are developping partnerships with hospital chains in the concerned countries, build data banks of customers and potential customers and even organise some roadshows with them.)

How does it work?

Usually, these medical tourism solutions brokers have an internet presence.

They generally ask you to fill a short online form in order to deliver you a quote for the type of medical care or surgery you need. You can also specify your preferred treatments destination(s) (as well as your travel dates of course).

Then you will receive a detailed quote in the next 24h.

The package provider possess a selection of doctors and hospitals with which he’s working, and has already selected the best accomodation solutions for you. You just have to select your accomodation among the hotels they offer to your choice.

The medical broker will facilitate your pre-consultation and all the doctor/patient interactions needed via email and telephone. Normally, the brokers work only with board certified MD’s, trained according to the same standards and practices as those operating in The United States.

Once their agents have a clear understanding of your medical and travel needs, you will be given a comprehensive profile for the hospital and physician(s) assigned to your procedure and country. This profile includes past and recent education, accreditation, residencies and everything you may want to know.

Medical Tourism companies partners are always private institutions that either meet or exceed the high standards of quality care, technological innovation and accreditation that offer comprehensive English speaking.

Some providers work only on one country, but most of them cover a large range of destinations.

The added value of the provider resides not only in the selection of the best hospitals and accomodations but mostly from the assistance they provide you all long of your stay, from the arrival at the airport to the very end of your stay. You won’t be left alone in a foreign country! A personal assistant willaccompany you to all of your medical appointments. After the procedure, they arrange the transfer to your hotel or resort for convalescence and recuperation. The assistant is available at all times during your stay.

They will also make sure that your physician will follow you until you leave the country and will communicate, if required, with your doctor at home to communicate him the information related to your after-treatment.