Travelling for healthcare


According to Patients Beyond Borders, more than eight million patients from around the world travel to obtain medical treatment somewhere other than their own country. 

Medical Tourism is a burgeoning industry worth $24-$40 billion on a global basis.

Lesser cost of course is a major factor, but people also decide to travel abroad to facilitate shorter wait times, access new and emerging treatments, better care and in some cases the ability to access procedures deemed illegal in their own countries.

Our global connectivity allows for easy verification of standards, certifications and verifiable endorsements from previous patients. 

Many physicians trained in top American, British or other European schools opt to live and prosper in countries where the lower cost of living allows them to live in veritable luxury and still provide excellent health care services.

There are many organizations providing information regarding international options. The Medical Travel Quality Alliance and The Medical Tourism Resource Guide are two excellent research tools.

Overseas patients are treated like royalty in countries such as Thailand and India. Private VIP transfers from the airport, luxurious spa-like accommodations within which to recuperate and state of the art, world class surgery theatres staffed by renowned specialists for a fraction of the cost of at-home procedures. 

With every “rose coloured glasses” story one must do their due diligence and underscore the possible setbacks. 

As a Canadian patient opting to get their hip surgery elsewhere, one might feel justified by “freeing up” our medical system from the cost. 

The reality is if there are complications resulting from the out of country procedure then you are right back into the Canadian healthcare system. Unless you can stay overseas on a long-term basis, monitoring your recovery remains a home-care issue. 

Another reality is that if you undertake any kind of voluntary medical treatment while abroad, it will completely invalidate any out of country medical coverage you may have. 

For some, the cost/risk ratio will be too strong to resist.  Here are some of the most popular medical hotspots.

  • India – IVF treatments, orthopedic, organ transplant and cardiac procedures
  • Mexico – over 50,000 Americans a year travel across the border for dental work. Weight loss surgery is also a specialty.
  • Thailand – meticulous cosmetic surgery. No. 1 destination for gender reassignment. Average cost for rhinoplasty is approx. $6,500CAD
  • Brazil – though not the most economical, Brazil is known for its cosmetic surgery. A forefront for developing new procedures and applications.
  • Turkey – gaining a worldwide reputation as a leading eye surgery destination.  Laser treatments start at $750EUR and includes three nights stay in hospital
  • Hungary – cosmetic or restorative dental treatments
  • Singapore – Gleneagles Hospital is rated as one of the Top 10 hospitals in the world. Specializing in orthopedics and gastroenterology, the average knee replacements costs approx. $10,000CAD

The consensus would be that overseas medical treatment is a “first world” problem or one only attributable to a wealthy individual, but the truth is that health is a priceless commodity that does not discriminate among the classes. 

A lifesaving transplant, a new drug advancement or a less expensive avenue to a pain free existence is an option that most people can achieve if willing to look abroad.


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About the Author

Joy has long been a believer in the art of travel: the belief that a vacation is something to be anticipated savored and then long remembered as one of life’s great adventures. 
Website: thejoyoftravel.ca

You can contact Joy at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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