As patients become more innovative about how to save money on healthcare, the prospect of travelling to foreign countries for medical services has spawned an industry called medical tourism. In many cases, the savings realized by seeking care outside the country more than makes up for the travel abroad and even a vacation while there.

Countries like Thailand, Malaysia, India, Turkey, and Costa Rica are increasingly investing in medical tourism as a focus industry for their economies. In many cases, these countries have natural beauty or fascinating history that can attract vacationers for more than the medical service – and places like South Africa even lure patients with “medical safaris.” The bang for the buck on saving big money is the main attraction, however.

American travel agents have even gotten into the mix. A cottage industry of travel arrangers specializing in medical tourism can now do everything from booking your airfare and hotel to scheduling the appointment with a surgeon.

With the increasing focus on medical tourism, and costs here in America continuing to escalate, which services are the most popular or best candidates for being done overseas? Before we provide some ideas, keep in mind that it is up to you to ensure the medical services will be credentialed to your comfort level, and that not all services are a good fit with the long flights and activity level that is common during overseas trips.

Plastic Surgery. Places like Egypt and South Africa, among many other countries, have become popular for performing plastic surgery at discounts of 60% or more. Liposuction, for example, can cost as little as 10% abroad of what it would cost here at home. What makes plastic surgery such an appealing service to have done overseas is that many U.S. insurance companies will deny covering a plastic surgery because it may not be medically necessary. If you are going to pay out of your own pocket, shop the globe.

Dental Procedures. Countries such as Hungary and India are drilling a niche in the area of dental services. Major dental services, such as root canals or reconstruction, can cost 50% less or more in these countries, all in a day when more and more people are dropping dental coverage at home because of questionable value.

Joint Replacements. As Americans remain active at much older ages than they used to, things like hip replacements are becoming more commonplace. The twist is that more and more people are having these replacements done in their pre-Medicare years, creating potentially large out-of-pocket costs associated with the procedures. Going to Thailand for the replacement, according to the Medical Tourism Association, will cost you $12,000 in instead of $43,000 at home.

Heart Surgery. While you need to do extra diligence to ensure you are a good candidate to travel for a service like this, and the ramifications of having someone unqualified perform the service are obviously significant, the price difference is hard to ignore. A heart valve replacement, for example, costs $15,000 in Costa Rica versus $160,000 in the United States – a whopping 90% savings. Before you book the trip south, though, check with your local cardiologist to see if he or she will discount their price, perhaps significantly, to keep your service at their shop.

In short, medical tourism is growing for a reason – you can save lots of money on the exact same service. But be sure that you are a good candidate for the travel, and that you are choosing a service that is done with excellence in the foreign country.

Medical Tourism Advantage

Today, medical tourism in on the rise thanks to increasing costs several countries, including the United States. The treatments being performed in foreign countries include surgical, optical, and dental. This is occurring as American patients try to find less-expensive alternatives, and patients in countries like Canada have become tired of the long waiting lists, feeling they can do better and get quicker results in other countries.

Medical tourism now generates more than twenty-billion dollars annually and is one of the quickest and largest growing industries in the world. While the number of uninsured persons and those with higher deductibles continues to climb, many are opting to be treated outside their own country, where they can afford the treatments they require in a timely fashion. Many of these foreign countries offer low cost, or cost effective, treatments with no waiting lists, so medical tourists are flocking to these places like never before. Today’s expectation is that this industry will continue to grow at a rapid rate of speed and continue to add new countries offering medical treatments to tourists at a fraction of the cost they can get it at home for.

As medical tourism becomes more and more popular, more people are finding benefits offered through being treated away from home. Some of the benefits include:

  • Lower Cost. The greatest advantage patients are finding when seeking medical treatment in foreign lands is the possibility of comparison-shopping for their treatment, and the amount of cost savings they achieve. Even after paying for their plane ticket, accommodations, food, and treatment, they are often paying less for it all then they do at home for just the medical treatment required. Today, the treatment received by some patients in foreign countries can be as little as a tenth of the cost for the same treatment in their home country, with a common savings range on the medical care being 70-90%. This is often the key driver to someone choosing to consider medical tourism.
  • You know what your costs will be upfront. Most foreign hospitals are more than willing to provide you an upfront estimate of your medical treatment as well as your lodging making it easy to calculate your overall financial needs. Whereas in the United States it can be harder to get a firm price estimate that the provider will stick to.
  • You may receive better treatment in foreign hospitals. This is a surprising advantage to most people when it involves medical care. Many of the foreign hospitals now provide more personal care than some North American facilities. In order to attract overseas patients these facilities often offer outstanding quality and service in hospitals that are as well equipped as North American hospitals are, so patients quickly figure out they receive better care and more luxury in the foreign hospital than at home.
  • You don’t have to wait. For high demand services, foreign hospitals can have you in and out fully recovered by the time you would have gotten an appointment for certain elective services. In an environment where faster you treat a problem, the better it is for your health, the quick treatment provides some of the patients who need urgent care, a great peace of mind and sense of satisfaction, which speeds up there recovery time.
  • You can enjoy a vacation while you recuperate and enjoy a stunning beautiful environment far from home where recuperating on a beach close to lapping waters or shopping downtown in a speciality boutique is just the right medicine to get you well quicker.

Disadvantages of Medical Tourism

Although medical tourism is now a fast growing industry with billions of dollars in sales each year, it is like most other things in life. Where you find advantages to the system, you will also find disadvantages to the system. Today, many people are travelling to foreign hospitals for surgeries and medical treatments that cannot get at home, cannot afford at home, or may encounter wait times due to the high demand of the services. While this seems like a great solution, usually the decision to do this is based on finances and that is not always the only thing to base your medical services on.

As you may or may not know, not all countries are created equal when it comes to licensing boards and educational systems. Going to a foreign country for medical treatment, no matter how luxurious it is or how much cheaper your treatment may be, it may not always outweigh conditions you may find there. Some of the disadvantages to obtaining medical treatment in foreign countries include:

  • Not all countries have the same educational or certification standards as your home country does. While the United States and Europe are typically on par with similar requirements, the same cannot always be said for countries in other locations. While many physicians in these locations are very talented and fully qualified to perform your procedures, it pays to check around on credentials. Begin with your family practice doctor, who can often give you the right questions to ask.
  • Less emphasis on post-operative care. The foreign hospitals get you in quickly, but also get you out quickly providing you with little or minimal care after the service has been delivered. You are left to fend for yourself for the most part, and unless something serious develops, you must monitor your own recovery. They may bring you in and ship you out. Therefore, the better candidates for receiving some services overseas may be those who are more educated about their health conditions or more proactive about lining up the needed recovery care.
  • You may find your immunity is not equipped to fight viruses and infections encountered in a strange land. The timeframe around receiving medical care leaves you open to infections, just at a time when you have lower resistance to disease. This can result in serious infections that often remain untreated until the patient returns home and has the added expense of medical treatment at home.
  • You will likely be travelling immediately after a medical procedure. Whether it is from the medical center to you recovery destination, or hopping on a plane back home, being sedentary for long periods of time is always risky, even more so after major medical care. This could result in you suffering a pulmonary embolism, blood clots, or haemorrhaging or undue swelling, which is some surgeries, could result in serious complications.
  • And last but not least, by seeking medical treatment in foreign lands you would have very little legal recourse available to you should anything go horribly wrong. You give that up when you decide to shop outside your home country and the protection it offers.

Today, because the numbers are growing and more and more people are travelling to foreign hospitals for medical treatment, the word “Malpractice” has come into play in a big way. Governments all over the world are watching as this industry grows alongside the medical tourism industries. Unfortunately, when a procedure goes horribly wrong, the only recourse open to most patients is the legal avenue of “Malpractice”, which often results in nothing or little being done. As with most things in life, these foreign treatment centers have a tendency to sell the advantages and avoid the disadvantages when advertising what they can do for the patient. Often “Malpractice” laws are different in every country so you may find yourself not only paying additional medical expenses at home for additional surgery, once botched, but you may also find yourself not able to recoup any of your losses either.

Imagine living without illness to slow you down. While there are no lifetime guarantees, enough scientific research has been done to make long, healthy living a possibility.

To help women boost health, WebMD examined five medical conditions that are of great concern to them: heart disease, breast cancer, osteoporosis, depression, and autoimmune diseases.

We looked at the risk factors for each disease and asked the experts what women could do to prevent such ailments.

In order to make full use of this information, Saralyn Mark, MD, encourages women to take charge of their health. She says women need to work in partnership with their doctors by finding out their family medical history, educating themselves on health issues, and paying attention to their bodies.

“You know what makes you feel good, you know when you don’t feel well. Understanding your body is key,” says Mark, senior medical adviser for the Office on Women’s Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading killer of both women and men. In women, the condition is responsible for about 29 % of deaths, reports the CDC.

Yet death in itself isn’t the biggest problem for women with heart disease. The real trouble is in premature death and disability, says Cindy Pearson, executive director of the National Women’s Health Network.

“There are far too many women dying of heart disease in their 60s, when no one expects to die because that’s too young in this country,” says Pearson. “There are (also) women, who, for many years, are really ill with heart disease– being out of breath, not being able to walk up one flight of stairs … because heart disease impairs their ability to get around.”.

Although more men die of heart disease than women, females tend to be under-diagnosed, often to the point that it’s too late to help them once the condition is discovered.

“The symptoms for women are typical for women, and they are often missed by doctors and the patient themselves,” Mark explains. “We often think of symptoms … like chest pain. Some people may have that, but others may just have a little bit of jaw pain, shoulder ache, nausea, vomiting, or shortness of breath.”.
Heart Disease continued …
The American Heart Association lists risk factors for heart disease as:.

Increasing age.
Male sex (men typically develop heart disease at a younger age).
Heredity (including race). People with family history of the disease have greater risk. So do African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, and some Asian-Americans.
High blood cholesterol.
High blood pressure.
Physical inactivity.
Obesity and overweight.

“The burden of heart disease in women is very great,” says Gregory Burke, MD, professor and chairman of the department of public health sciences at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. “The earlier folks adapt healthier behaviors, the lower their overall risk for heart disease or stroke outcomes.”.

Burke says people can reduce their risk of heart disease by modifying lifestyle to include a well-balanced diet and exercise workouts.

Simple Tips for a Perfect Pap Smear

Pap smears are important screening means for the detection of cervical cancer. All women must have yearly Pap smear starting at age twenty one, as recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Females aged twenty one to twenty nine should have Pap smear for every 2 years, then once a year for women with ages thirty to sixty four. When you are scheduled to have your subsequent Pat test, you must try to have an appointment with your doctor that is around two weeks once you have had your first day of your monthly cycle.
To make sure that you attain the most perfect results of your Pap smear, you have to be prepared properly for your pelvic examination annually. Follow these following easy tips for a more precise result of your Pap smear.
Here are the helpful reminders:
• Refrain from using vaginal douches for a minimum of three days before your appointment
• Avoid doing sexual intercourse for forty eight hours before your schedule of Pap smear
• Never use birth control jellies or foam and tampons for forty eight hours before your appointment.
Simple tips for an accurate result of Pap smear:
• Schedule your Pap smear around one week or two weeks after your expected monthly menstrual cycle. If your menstruation starts, contact your doctor for rescheduling.
• Jot down any queries you think that you have for your physician, and bring your list with you to your scheduled examination.
• Do not fail to tell your physicians about any discharges, infections, or pain that you have experienced since your previous test. If you had encountered abnormal results of your Pap smear that your doctor might not have recorded, inform her about the results. Likewise, you have to make sure that you will tell her about your exposure to HPV if ever you had.
• If you get abnormal results, try to have a detailed clarification about the connotation from your physician. Try to ask questions if you do not understand.
• Follow the advice of your doctor about any additional diagnostic/treatment measures. Bear in mind also, that it is always your privilege to ask for further opinion from other doctors.

Important Medical Tests for Women

Women need to undergo medical screenings and tests throughout their lives. Why are these needed? You will learn from this article the benefits of taking these medical tests.

• Pap test – this test is also known as Pap smear. This test is important for women with ages of twenty one and above. Women who are sexually active under twenty one years of age also need this Pap test. Pap test was developed originally by Dr. George Papanicolaou in 1950’s that it is also called Pap smear. This test detects irregular changes in the cells of the cervix that could cause cervical cancer. This cervical cancer will develop if not right away discovered through a yearly Pap smear.
• Before Pap smear was introduced, cancer of the cervix was the primary cause of mortality in women. However, due to the research and hard work of Dr. Papanicolaou in developing the Pap smear, cervical malignancy is now ranks 15th among the causes of deaths due to cancer among women.
• Mammograms – Annual mammography is highly recommended for women but it varies among groups of health professionals. The group of American Cancer Society and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advise mammography screening starting at age forty. Other groups of professionals including the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians, Us Preventive Services at Task Force and also the Canadian Task Force on Periodic Health Examination suggest annual screening starting at age fifty. These dissimilarities occur because the groups that recommend year mammograms starting at age fifty believe that the hazards of exposure to radiation may overshadow the benefits of the test commencing at earlier age.

Mammograms are harmless, fairly painless and needed for early discovery of cancer in the breast. When detected early, the survival rate of five years for breast malignancy is approximately 96% as declared by the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

The above mentioned tests are very necessary for women’s health. Having these medical tests will be beneficial for women aged forty and above