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Financing Tips for Medical Tourists

Financing Difficulties for a Medical Tourist

Medicaid and medical tourism

Despite the significant savings that taxpayers can derive from healthcare tourism, many state Medicaid programs continue to exclude offshore healthcare from their coverage. This makes it difficult for patients to finance their medical travels, as they must rely on their own funds. 

This also makes it difficult for foreign-born workers who are entitled to healthcare benefits in the United States to return to their native countries to retire.

Medicare and medical tourism

Medicare has similar limitations. Benefits are provided only within the United States. This forces approximately 40,000 to 80,000 American retirees residing in Mexico to pay for healthcare on their own whilst in that country. To receive healthcare benefits from Medicare they must travel back to the United States, which increase cost of care. In addition, Medicare requires patient cost sharing which is equivalent to 20% above a patient's deductible. This places a burden on healthcare recipients, particularly to seniors and retirees.

Several private insurance systems do not carry expenses for medical travel. However, this may change as a growing number of insurers and employers are seeing the financial benefits that they could derive should they include offshore medical procedures. In the meantime, individuals planning to go on healthcare tourism should seek other means to get financing.

Calculating the full cost of medical travel

Whatever path a potential medical tourist takes to get financing, there are a few considerations to consider. The bulk of the expenses would fall on hospital and doctors' fees. However, other factors should be included in their budget such as:
  • Passport costs, including travel visas and other required documents
  • Airfare
  • Airport pick-up upon arrival and departure
  • Transport cost from hotel to health provider's clinics or hospitals and vice versa
  • Hotel accommodation
  • Food, drinks, and tips
  • International calls and other correspondence back home
  • Medication and medical supplies
  • Aftercare costs
  • Insurance
Preparing this checklist can provide the medical tourist a clear picture of the total cost of the medical procedure abroad.

Available financing options for medical tourists

For people who choose to undergo a medical procedure abroad, there are several potential ways of financing the trip:
  • Using personal savings.
  • Using credit cards: The costs of some procedures are within the credit limits allocated for personal credit cards.
  • Take on a new line of credit.
  • Availing a personal loan. Several financing organizations are including medical travel as valid reasons to apply for a loan.
  • Financial support from family and friends: No matter what situation they are in, patients can always rely on friends and families to help them out.
  • Benefit from financing programs provided by medical tourism intermediaries
  • Conduct fundraising: Friends, family and network can pitch in and raise funds to reach the required target amount.
  • Taking an equity loan on their homes: This should be one of the last resorts and should be contemplated only in life-threatening medical situations.
  • Liquidate available personal assets: In severe cases, health is prioritized over money.

Financing by medical tourism intermediaries

The emergence of several healthcare tourism intermediaries has made it a lot easier for medical tourists to get financing. These intermediaries are like specialized travel agencies that search and investigate certified quality health providers abroad that can provide quality, American-standard healthcare services and facilities.

Such medical tourism intermediaries offer financing programs to help patients get the funds they need for their medical travel. Most of the financing offered by these agencies provide credit limits ranging from $500 to $25,000 depending on the procedures required.

These are offered at the lowest available interest rates with payment terms depending on the patient’s application. Accounts and bills can be accessed and paid online. In most cases, the intermediaries pay the healthcare providers directly from the approved fund, and the balance given to the patients for other expenses that they need.

Special medical financing companies

The increasing number of medical tourists availing themselves of the benefits from healthcare tourism has attracted involvement from the financial loan industry. What health insurance companies will not give, these medical financial services provide - on credit. With loans and financing schemes becoming more affordable, these financial services may be the best options available.

These companies provide consumer loans and lines of credit to medical tourists. Some of these companies provide packages for the broad spectrum of healthcare, even on areas that health insurance companies keep away from such as cosmetic procedures like liposuction, facelifts, hair restoration, bariatric treatments, infertility treatments and a whole lot more. Applications can be done online and can then be assessed by multiple lenders.

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