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5 pitfalls of medical tourism, which you should know in advance

In Russia, wealthy people traditionally went to Europe for treatment – Germany, Switzerland – and Israel. But because of the crisis, more and more of our compatriots began to look at Asia as a source of high-quality and affordable medical services. How to deal with the Asian market of medical services? And is it possible to combine a pleasant rest with an attempt to improve your health? The expert Charles Wright, specifically for, has prepared a list of pitfalls that should be avoided when planning a trip in order to receive medical services – both in Asia and abroad as a whole.Charles Wright,
Director of International Development Clinic Bumrungrad (Bangkok, Thailand)
1. The risk to receive substandard medical services
Top European and Israeli clinics have long been known around the world, while Asian medical tourism is gaining momentum. Although now Asian clinics significantly overtake European ones in the number of foreign patients.

In 2015, in particular, Thailand became the world leader in the number of medical tourists – the clinics took about 3 million patients from different countries. The same year, about 1 million foreign tourists visited Singapore clinics, 850,000 patients came to Malaysia, and almost half a million went to India. For comparison, in Germany in 2015, only about 200 thousand foreigners were treated.

So what stops the Russians before going to Asia for treatment?

Perhaps, people do not know how to choose a good clinic – and they are afraid, without understanding, to fall into the hands of low-skilled doctors or simply fraudsters.

The main advice, of course, is to study publications about the clinic on the Internet (in Russian and English), to read reviews from foreign patients. But the main thing is to check whether the clinic has international certificates that confirm that its services comply with all international standards.

2. Language barrier
If in Western European clinics – for example, in Germany and Switzerland – almost all specialists speak English by default, in Asia medical tourists run the risk of facing a language barrier.

Therefore, before going to an Asian country for treatment, review the information about the clinic and check whether there are English speakers – or maybe Russian speakers – doctors, nurses and administrators.

Also pay attention to the site of the institution – whether it has a full-fledged international version. If you are in doubt about the language barrier, I recommend sending a request to the clinic before going for treatment. Some of them can provide a translator – sometimes including free.

3. Extra services
Some unscrupulous clinics, of course, may try to “dissolve” you for unnecessary examinations and even treatment.

To avoid this, it is advisable to go with a clear and clear goal. For example, you are a woman of 35 years old, nothing specifically bothers you – but you would like to undergo a comprehensive examination in a good clinic and get recommendations for disease prevention. Then it is best to immediately look after the checkout – the “package” research program.

If something bothers you, but you don’t know which doctors to go to, be sure to take your medical documents with you: a card from the clinic, results of tests and examinations, discharge from the hospital. This will help the on-site doctors not to prescribe the “extra” studies to you.

4. A spoiled vacation
Suppose you decide to combine rest with treatment. And this is understandable: to fly far, the tickets are expensive … Therefore, you decided to spend two weeks in the clinic, and another one at the resort.

How not to spoil your vacation experience?

Make sure the conditions in the clinic allow you to spend time in comfort. The location of the hospital is also important: if you are not bedridden, you will be able to get out of the clinic and walk around the city. Finally, look at what points of catering there are in the hospital and nearby: still, hospital food, even in good private clinics, is not exactly what I would like to eat three times a day for my legal rest.

5. To heal and not go broke?
Medical tourism is not always a planned thing. Sometimes you just go to rest – and suddenly there is an attack of a chronic disease or, for example, appendicitis. We have to urgently look for a hospital nearby.

Of course, the main advice here is to always issue international medical insurance when traveling abroad.

Save the number of your insurance company, which you need to call in an emergency, in the phone. And give instructions on how to contact your insurance, the person you are traveling with.

As soon as you become ill, call the insurance number and specify which hospital to go to, so that the company will later reimburse you. Specify what documents you need to collect for this.

But if you just can not get through to the insurance, and an emergency case – go to a large clinic that deals with medical tourism. Such clinics usually have well-established connections with insurance and will help you to resolve all issues.

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