Medical Tourism: Finding the Best Hospitals

With the ever-rising cost of medical care in the United States, more people are choosing to seek medical care in other countries. There are many countries with comparable quality healthcare at a fraction of the cost, which is why many individuals are becoming medical tourists.

India, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Thailand are considered to have medical care on par with that of the United States, but at a cost of 60-90% lower. Many of these doctors are also better trained and more experienced than some of the doctors in the United States.

Consider these key points when searching for a hospital
1. Look for a hospital that’s accredited. There are international accreditation programs like Joint Commission International (JCI) and the Clinical Care Program Certification. A hospital having these stamps of approval will let you know that the facility is top-notch.

* JCI is a non-profit organization that researches and rates hospitals worldwide. Hospitals must pass a rigorous audit process in order to gain the accreditation.

2. Check out the medical subspecialties at the hospital. You might find that the best hospital for hip replacement surgery isn’t the best hospital for a cosmetic procedure. Check to see if the physicians are board certified. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for the resume of any doctor that will be part of your treatment.

3. Examine the hospital’s standards. Check the news for any stories surrounding your potential hospital. Has there been a recent outbreak of infection or disease? Have they received awards for the quality of care they provide? Do the reviews suggest the hospital is safe and comfortable?

* Ask for the common statistics used to determine the quality of a hospital, such as mortality rate, nurse-to-patient ratio, and frequency of Staph infection. Sometimes, hospitals will publish this information online. In other cases, you’ll have to request it.

4. Investigate the language situation. Does the staff in the hospital speak your native language? Do they provide interpreters or do you need to provide your own? Also consider your medical records. Will they need to be translated?

* Communication is a key part of any relationship, including the one with your medical team. Many international hospitals have an international patient department set up to handle these issues.

5. Estimate the expected costs. Are the projected costs in line with what you budgeted? When are you required to start making payments? How much will the payments be? Will your insurance cover any of the costs? Will your insurance cover your transportation back to the states if there are complications?

6. Discover partnerships with any U.S. hospitals. Many overseas hospitals have relationships with hospitals in the United States. This can be a good sign that the hospital has high standards.

7. Research the hospital’s reputation among the local residents. You can find this information with a little legwork. It’s difficult to fool the local population, as they know the staff and hear all the stories.

8. Find out the location of the hospital relative to where you’re staying. Many foreign locations lack good transportation, which might be an issue if you’ll be living on the other side of the city while receiving treatment.

* If you’re going to be physically uncomfortable, location and traveling issues are definitely worth considering.

* The cost of transportation might also be relevant.

Medical tourism is becoming more and more popular. This is likely to continue for as long as medical costs continue to rise in the United States. Investigate the many medical tourism companies that provide support for those traveling overseas for medical care.

If you’re looking for an international hospital, these tips will get you off to a great start.