You and I just had the local Doc and the local hospital if things elevated to that level.
Now, for you and I it’s all changing. For real.
Anyone can travel almost anywhere for anything related to medicine. People are gobbling up pharmaceuticals from outside the country either because they are tired of getting ripped off by American pharmacy gouging the sick, or it’s maybe not offered in the US. Look at the recent price gouging by Mylan with it's Epipen carried by adults and school kids all over the country to use if they make unfortunate contact with something they are deathly allergic to. They have been making plenty on these products for years but recently applied the current pharmcy motto "Why not make a freakin whole lot more!" And you're surprised people are taking their business elsewhere?
Since Obamacare upped the monthly cost of insurance by a hundred-fold, or the high deductible you are paying since the universal plan rolled out (mandatory I might add) makes it wise to at least consider going elsewhere for your care. Hospitals in other countries are investing millions in their hospitals for only the very best medical technology and staff to not compete with the US but to far surpass it.
It’s a bit of free-market enterprise which the US unfortunately no longer has. However, these countries saw the opportunity and acted on it. Focusing on quality, lower cost and incredible service.
If you're thinking rubbish on quality, then think again and look at the facts. Of the larger nations in the world the World Health Orgainization rates almost 200 nations but the US and Canada (which occassionally people mis-quote their healthcare) are not even in the top 25. Don't think because we show off means that we are better. We probably market the most, and spend mutiple times way more money convincing people we are good. Unfortunately, the WHO doesn't quite agree. The only stat we absolutely lead by a wide-massive margin in is cost. When it comes to cost of services we rock. You can't spend more on healthcare anywhere in the world.
Are there risks in medical travel? Of course, just as there are at your local hospital, or the big mega-hospitals, many of them penalized by CMS because of high infection rates or patient safety issues (http://khn.org/news/721-hospitals-penalized-for-patient-safety/). It goes without saying you need to do some research into where you are going to.
Contacting a good medical travel facilitator can help if they have sent patients prior so they have testimonials and feedback. Many hospitals post their own but beware anybody, anywhere can post good stuff. Look at any of the hospital websites in the above list, and you’ll find plenty of “I love this place” stuff.
There are accrediting agencies for hospitals but most involve the hospital paying a huge fee for the agency to inspect them and every hospital knows about when they are coming for the perfect show and tell. You might argue it's hard to flunk a hospital when they are paying you ten grand to give you the test. What is important is how dos the hospital operate the rest of the year (or 3 years in the inspection cycle)?
Our favorite phrase is “buyer beware” and this certainly applies here to medical travel and also to your local hospital. There is something to be said about a hospital that is trying to attract customers from across the world, or ocean or boundary. They know either they get it really right, or there is no business coming. A key piece that is not the case in most county-run hospitals, or those serving a large population in the US.
Medical travel is a complex subject, but the concept is growing as billions of dollars are now moving out of the country for health related services.
In the end it’s your healthcare, and your responsibility. Time to start trusting yourself, not others. Research, visit, ask questions and trust your instinct and your heart. If the questioning is not met with a warm understanding or straight answers then keep looking.
Your safety is only truly in your hands.