The rapid growth of medical tourism has allowed Britons to save thousands of pounds on medical procedures. By travelling abroad for medical treatment, be it cosmetic surgery, dentistry or elective surgery, British medical tourists are making great savings, avoiding long waiting lists and enjoying a great holiday to boot.
By choosing to have dentistry in Croatia, Brits can save more than £1,000 as the cost for dental implants in Croatia start at £550 each. Cosmetic surgery, such as a facelift in Belgium, including flights and accommodation costs just £3,000, which is £4,000 cheaper than the cost of the same surgery in the UK.
Travelling further afield, a heart bypass operation in India, with all flights and accommodation included, costs £5,000, a staggering £10,000 saving on the UK price.
With the financial savings in choosing to have medical treatment abroad being so obvious, combined with the fear of contracting a hospital superbug such as MRSA in the UK, and the frustration experienced by being stuck on an NHS waiting list, it is little wonder that so many people are opting down the medical tourism path... and it is no surprise that the British Medical Association has urged caution. But apart from serving its own self interest in the matter, there are elements of medical tourism that people need to research when choosing to have treatment overseas.
Medical Travel Insurance
Finding medical travel insurance can be quite difficult. Some insurance companies will provide cover for minor procedures such as rhinoplasty (nose job) within Europe. Some of the larger insurers may agree to cover the “travel” side of the insurance but not the “medical” part. Medical travel insurance is not essential and there are ways that people can reduce risks.
Keith Pollard, of Treatment Abroad, explained: “People should conduct research. Medical tourists need to check the credentials of the surgeon or dentist and make sure they are registered with their country’s General Medical Council equivalent.”
Facelift in Prague
A recent medical tourism investigation conduct by The Times revealed that it is possible to conduct your own research, get clued up and save thousands of pounds on treatment. It highlighted the case of Bedford man Anthony Elfain who, after seeing photos of himself at his civil partnership, decided to have a facelift, necklift and eyelid surgery.
He conducted research using treatmentabroad.net and discovered that the UK price for these procedures ranged from £9,000 to £13,400, much higher than the Prague equivalent price of £4,400, which included flights, accommodation and surgery. He researched cosmetic surgery clinics in Prague and checked their credentials with the Czech Medical Chamber.
In August, Mr Elflain travelled to the Beauty in Prague Clinic for his surgery. He purchased standard travel insurance with the knowledge that if the operation went wrong, his insurance would not pay out.
“The surgery was a complete success. My GP was happy with the results and there have been no complications. I would definitely recommend it.”