Dental and medical tourism

Dental and medical tourism

Dental tourism is growing worldwide: as the world becomes ever more interdependent and competitive, technique, material, and technological advances spread rapidly, enabling providers in “developing countries” to provide dental care at significant cost savings when compared with their peers in the developed world. Medical Tourism Resource Guide lists Mexico among the top destinations.

Top Destinations:

India

Mexico

Singapore

Barbados

Thailand

Brazil

Israel

South Korea

Turkey

Other Countries Include; Costa Rica, Antigua, Hungary. For more information click here.

Emily Ross of Whatclinic.com, a global healthcare professional search provider for medical tourism patients, says that the most-searched-for destinations for Americans seeking medical care are Mexico, the U.K., the Philippines, Costa Rica, and India. Dental implants, crowns, and dentures are the most popular searches. British patients book cheap flights to Hungary, Poland or Slovakia and getting implants, fillings and teeth whitening at a fraction of the price they would pay back home. Australians travel for cheaper dental care to Thailand or India. Over 50 countries have identified medical tourism as a national industry (Gahlinger, PM. The Medical Tourism Travel Guide: Your Complete Reference to Top-Quality, Low-Cost Dental, Cosmetic, Medical Care & Surgery Overseas. Sunrise River Press, 2008).

Why Mexico?

When people hear about dental tourism in Mexico they often think it’s unsafe, their insurance doesn’t cover it and that lower cost means lower quality of care – but all of these stereotypes are FALSE. Reasons for lower prices are many: dentists in Mexico are able to take advantage of much lower fixed costs, lower labour costs, less government intervention, lower education fees and expenses, and lower insurance costs. Pricing and qualifications of the dentists can be easily researched through websites or by contacting the dentists. Through e-mail contact, one can ask for references, ask about payment options, and even obtain information about accommodations. Keep in mind, price is not the only consideration.

In addition to the cost it is important to emphasise the quality of dental work as Mexico has the World Class Dental Education System. Furthermore, Mexico is accessible and the seaside Mexican towns make a great medical holiday destination. Many people from Canada and the USA make the mistake of flying to visit Mexican border dentists practicing in border towns where dental is well established to serve the needs of Americans living along the Mexican border. Dental tourists may not realise that there are dentists practicing in tourist destinations where there are beaches, palm trees and beautiful sunsets, places such as Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Playa del Carmen. Overall, according to International Living, Mexico is listed as one of the top 10 medical travel destinations.

Mexico is also famous for inexpensive weight loss surgeries and cosmetic surgeries. High costs and long waiting lists at home, new technology and skills in destination countries alongside reduced transport costs and Internet marketing has all played a role. The avoidance of waiting times is the leading factor for medical tourism from the UK, whereas in the US, the main reason is cheaper prices abroad. For a cost example click here.

Things to keep in mind

Medical tourism carries some risks that locally provided medical care does not.

Some countries, such as India, South Africa, or Thailand have very different infectious disease-related epidemiology to Europe and North America. Anyone going abroad for healthcare services must be prepared to adjust their system to the changes in climate and altitude, depending on the country of their choice.  The quality of post-operative care can also vary dramatically, depending on the hospital and country, and may be different from US or European standards. Also, travelling long distances soon after surgery can increase the risk of complications. Careful planning of your trip is therefore required and it is recommended to discuss the convalescence time with the doctor prior to booking the operation and the travel abroad. Receiving medical care abroad may be subject to unfamiliar legal issues. The limited nature of litigation in various countries is one reason for the lower cost of care overseas. Should problems arise, patients might not be covered by adequate personal insurance. Checking the doctor’s accreditation prior to the treatment is also advisable.

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