Some of you may be familiar with what medical & dental tourism is, and some may not. Medical tourism is traveling from your home country, such as the U.S.A. or Canada, to another country known for its low-cost but high-quality health care. Traveling abroad for health purposes may make it affordable, as well as sensible, for people to get their necessary medical or dental procedures. Some of the most well known countries for medical tourism are Thailand, India, and Costa Rica. These countries dominate the world with their low cost of health care procedures and excellent quality of care.
What most people don’t know is that last year Ecuador was ranked 6th by the World Health Organization as one of the most-improved health care systems in the world. The government of Ecuador is investing heavily in new medical facilities and services as well as medical education for its already large base of well-trained doctors and nurses. Ecuador is seeing increasing numbers of foreigners visiting the country in order to take advantage of low costs and high quality services. 1.5 million foreign visitors traveled to Ecuador in just 2014 alone!
An American living in Cuenca can expect to pay just 15 to 30 per cent of what they would pay in the U.S.A. or Canada for their medical or dental treatments.
So, how do you get started with medical and/or dental tourism? Well, you will first need to decide whether you would like to simply coordinate everything on your own or go through a medical tourism facilitator. A facilitator will organize your entire trip from start to finish, from the moment you step off the plane to the moment you depart back to your home country. They can arrange everything from pickup for you at the airport with a professionally-trained, English-speaking driver to making reservations for and taking you directly to the hotel of your choice, to even coordinating your “recreational tourism” activities such as a trip to ancient Incan ruins or an adventure to the Galápagos Islands.
A facilitator can set up a homestay, where a nice English-speaking expat can take care of you during your post-surgery recovery and provide you with food, board, and entertainment options. A quality facilitator will usually also have certified Ecuadorian or American nurses who can come visit you at your hotel or homestay upon request. They will take you to your doctor appointments and assist you with any translations if necessary (some doctors are not well-versed in English but are in fact very excellent doctors!). The facilitator will also provide you with a temporary cell phone upon your arrival, so that the facilitator and you, as the medical or dental tourist, have perfect communication at all times. A facilitator may visit you in the hospital and even pick you up after your procedure.
Most medical tourism facilitators do NOT charge their clients for ANY of these facilitation services. Consequently, one of the biggest questions most people have is how in the world do facilitators get paid? Well, the doctors, taxi drivers, hotels, and tourism agencies are actually paying the facilitators a small commission (usually around 10 to 15 per cent of the normal cost of that service). They do not markup the cost, they simply reward the volume of clients that the facilitator provides to them throughout the year. Medical tourism facilitators themselves do not mark up the cost of the procedure or services they provide either; the facilitator simply gets a small portion or cut of whatever the doctor might make in total, and so a medical or dental tourist doesn’t ever have to worry about paying more for their care or hotels. Most medical tourism companies don’t even accept payments to their own company directly, but will instead tell their clients to just pay each service provider as they go.
If you ask me, using a facilitator who specializes in what they do for no additional fees is always the way to go. They know who the most reputable doctors are and have written patient testimonials to prove it. They can make your experience go smoothly and comfortably, so that you have a happy story to tell friends and family back home when you finish your overseas medical or dental “vacation.”