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What is medical tourism?

Medical tourism involves traveling to a specific location in a foreign country to obtain and/or undergo medical procedure.Medical tourists are residents of developed and/or developing nation including the United States, Australia, Western Europe, Great Britain, Canada and the Middle East seeking quality and affordable medical care.

What kind of procedures are obtained by medical tourists?

Medical tourists may undergo major surgeries such as hip, spinal disc and joint replacements; angioplasties and mitral valve replacements; hysterectomy; gastric bypass, or elective procedures like dental crowns, caps and veneers; liposuction; face-lift; breast augmentation or LASIK.

Why is medical care so much more affordable in India?

Some of the reasons for the cheaper costs of medical care abroad include :

  • Favorable exchange rates
  • Cheaper medical supplies, equipment and medication
  • Lower malpractice insurance costs

How much can a medical tourist expect to save?

Depending on the procedure they choose, medical tourist can expect to save anywhere between 50 per cent to 80 per cent of the costs of comparable/similar procedure in their home country. Cardiac procedures yield the biggest savings.

What are risks of medical tourism?

The biggest risk of medical tourism is not doing enough research and due diligence when choosing medical providers. It is critical to investigate such factors as hospital and doctor accreditation, how medical providers define ‘medical complication’, what kind of cancellation and refund policies are enforced. It is equally important to consult your general practitioner to ascertain whether you are a suitable candidate for the procedure you wish to obtain abroad.


A medical tourism facilitator can help you make informed choices by providing unbiased information on accredited super-specialty hospitals in different cities.

What kind of language barrier can I expect when I travel to India for medical care?

Reputed hospitals endorsed by your facilitator will have multi-lingual staff who are conversant in the English language. Many may also have medical translators and interpreters catering to international patients.

Will medical insurance cover my medical procedure(s)?

Medicare does not cover medical and hospital costs incurred overseas, but some health insurance providers do. Medical tourism insurance is designed for individuals who have scheduled eligible medical procedures in a facility outside their home country. It covers, among other things, trip cancellations/delays/interruptions; medical coverage; medical evacuation coverage; travel companion coverage; liability coverage; and accidental death and dismemberment coverage.

How long must I remain at the medical destination before returning to my home country?

This depends on the procedure you have undergone, and your doctor is the best person to advise you in this matter. Typically, the required length of stay is anywhere between two and three weeks.

What steps should I take in the event of a complication?

If the complication occurs overseas, you will need to consult your treating surgeon. This may require you to extend your duration of stay. If the complication is discovered after you return home, your general practitioner will advise you on the next steps.

Will my medical tourism facilitator help me obtain an M-visa?

You will need to apply for your M-visa. We assist in arranging for the M-visa letter describing the treatment from the hospital in question.

What are the patient rights in the event of a medical complication?

Hospitals, regardless of the location, typically do not cover the costs of medical complications. In fact, hospitals may not define ‘medical complication’ uniformly. It is in your best interest to understand what constitutes a complication and what doesn’t, for an intelligent risk vs results assessment. One question you most definitely want answered is whether or not your insurance will cover the cost of complications, and how will it be paid for abroad or after you return home.

Medical evacuation is another risk, a reason why some patients may purchase evacuation coverage  in a situation where they may have to be moved to another medical facility.

Are costs refundable, if you decide not to go through the surgery?

It is quite rare for medical tourists to abandon plans to undergo surgery, especially after they have arrived at the destination. However, due to purely health-related reasons or unforeseen circumstances, some may be forced to cancel their procedure.

In this situation, whether or not costs are refunded depends entirely on the policy of the particular hospital. Most hospitals stipulate that patients who don’t go through with their procedure will be refunded 100% of their initial deposit.¬† There are some that may not have such a refund policy, so it is advisable to read and understand the written contract completely, and inquire if a term or condition is not clear to you.

Are costs refundable, if the hospital does not perform the surgery?

Accredited hospitals have a money-back policy in the event that they refuse or cancel a scheduled surgery. But the onus is on you to verify the refund policy of your medical provider, which you can accomplish more easily by consulting your medical tourism facilitator.