Traveling, particularly if you’re traveling solo, can be daunting. If you are sick or injured in a foreign country, it can be downright frightening. You may not know the language, you aren’t sure about the quality of facilities, and you may wonder where the doctor got his medical training. The short answer to these concerns is that healthcare is excellent and affordable in most foreign countries, particularly in Europe. This is one of the reasons medical tourism is quickly growing in popularity. If you travel to the Near East or Europe for an elective procedure, you can usually recover in a luxury hotel, then finish out with a week of sightseeing. Not a bad plan!
Travelers from English-speaking countries sometimes have a myopic view of what constitutes adequate training for physicians. While the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain have excellent universities and teaching hospitals, they haven’t cornered the market. Not even close. In many countries such as India, medical schools and residencies have stringent training programs and superior training. Some of the world’s best medical programs include the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, the University of Munich in Germany, and the University of Milan in Italy. If the doctor you’re seeing has been trained in these are any of the other major medical centers around the globe, you’re in good hands.
Medical Costs Overseas
You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how inexpensive healthcare is in many countries, even if you don’t have health insurance. Countries with socialized or national healthcare programs generally run efficiently and have streamlined their processes to minimize or eliminate out-of-pocket expenses for patients. There’s a reason medical tourism is taking off – it’s far less expensive to fly to Thailand or Brazil and get plastic surgery performed or surgery for a back issue than in the United States or Britain. You won’t have to pay the out-of-pocket expenses, argue with your insurance provider, then set up a lengthy payment plan.
Medical Facility Setup
Many foreign medical facilities, particularly doctor’s offices and clinics, don’t look the same as in the United States. If you’re picturing a stylish, sleek office with bold colors and lots of amenities, you will probably be disappointed overseas unless you are at a major medical center. Although businesses like Key Interiors focus on creating an exceptional office experience in the United States, this isn’t common in other countries, where socialized or national health care puts a premium on exceptional healthcare without the bells and whistles. If you aren’t sure about a doctor’s office or clinic, check out any diplomas to see where the doctor was trained.
The Time Problem
If you have a non-emergency need, you may have to wait a few days before seeing the doctor. You can bump that up to weeks or even months of waiting for elective and cosmetic surgeries. This ensures that patients with emergencies and serious conditions like cancer receive treatment quickly, prioritizing their care over someone wanting a butt lift.
If you’re traveling in a foreign country and need to see a doctor, you can either ask locals who they recommend or contact the local consulate. They should be able to suggest physicians and clinics that welcome American patients.