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The Great 'Medical Tourism' Hunt
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# 1
MSE Martin
Old 29-05-2007, 4:52 PM
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Default The Great 'Medical Tourism' Hunt

It's no surprise that operations and dentistry are often a lot cheaper if done outside the UK; but of course it's balanced by the difficulty of aftercare and concerns over regulation and quality. So I wanted to tap MoneySavers' collective wisdom to find out more.

If you've been abroad for medical or dental treatment, I'd like to know how it went. Was it good or bad for you, and do you have any tips for others considering getting involved?

Please post below to share your experiences.
Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.

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Last edited by Former MSE Dan; 12-06-2007 at 7:05 PM.
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# 2
LondonDiva
Old 30-05-2007, 7:31 AM
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Please note that if you do consider seeking treatment abroad that you must, must factor in the cost and issue of post operative communication and care.

You should also be aware that in a lot of cases money talks and you probably will get treatment you want but don't need.
"This is a forum - not a support group. We do not "owe" anyone unconditional acceptance of their opinions."
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# 3
beechescomposter
Old 30-05-2007, 9:27 AM
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Default Scans abroad

Some of the companies that come up after a google search offering private scans (MRI) in Norway or Germany give a very misleading price comparison. They claim that a private MRI scan costs £800 in the UK while they can do it for £300-400 including travel. Whether anyone who needs an MRI scan (most often done for back or joint trouble) would be happy to travel to Germany and back is another matter but the price for a private scan in the UK is as low as £200 (www.uk-radiology.co.uk) so there is no price benefit to travelling abroad.
Also, patients travelling abroad need to consider redress if something goes wrong. A major part of the costs in the UK are due to the cost of indemnity cover. Even if overseas doctors are covered it would be a nightmare to get redress in a different country with a different legal system.

Last edited by Former MSE Natasha; 05-06-2007 at 12:48 PM.
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# 4
gobatt
Old 30-05-2007, 10:09 AM
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My wife and I go to South Africa each year where we have our dental needs attended to. The standard of dentistry is of the best,with no delays and no unnecessary work being done to padd the account. With the very favourable rate of exchange , the money saved pays for our air tickets. Try it and see for yourself.

Gordon Batt
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# 5
utilities-shop.com
Old 30-05-2007, 11:09 AM
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Dental Tourism
Last year I went to Hungary as I was outraged by the cost of a dental implant here in the UK , with relativly little effort if found several english speaking dentists in Budapest so avoided any middle men. The savings were huge the quality of service second to none and equiptment and level of service far in excess of any private dentist here in the uk I've ever seen. As the treatment wasnt urgent I picked my time and took in a Robbie Williams concert at the same time and had a great time exploring a wonderful city for a week and still came back quids in , 30 euro tooth whitning too oh if your quick £10.00 taxes paid flights from bristol new route ryan air
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# 6
pigeonpie
Old 30-05-2007, 11:31 AM
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Can second that dental treatment in SA is good. A root canal there was R1400 in 2004 (divvy by 13) - prob a bit more now. Most dentists do not have the most up to date Xray scanners (but can refer you for one) but other than that, the standard is generally very good. One tip - I've heard of the 'UK visitor' price being different from that charged to locals on medical aid schemes so ask a SAfrican to check first.

I can vouch for the french health system being generally excellent, however I'm not sure whether Brits are entitled to travel to France specifically to have treatment as private treatment there is not allowed (as yet: watch Sarko...!).
But if you live there for eg, a specialist appointment with ultrasound cost me 28€. The same here in London cost £175 for 20 mins with a rude bow tied consultant and a further £185 for the ultrasound.
Which raises one question about those going private abroad for tests btw - one French dr would not release his scans to me to take (they belong to his state practice) and the English drs would not take his word/patient's word on the results.
Also if they prescribe a drug, I have found English GPs refuse to believe/follow the french GP's prescription; in fact there were many very childish anti-french comments which were absurd. Plus dosages can be different in other countries in Europe. I even had one NHS GP say to me that the french "follow a different care pathway".
Bottom line imho make sure your dr is happy for you to go and will accept the results done by 'foreign drs'.
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# 7
Dan Gliebitz
Old 30-05-2007, 12:14 PM
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I can confirm that dentistry in Hungary is of a very high standard and represents good value for money. Last year, I had extensive cosmetic dentistry carried out by Kreativ Dental in Budapest. I had been quoted in excess of £20k to have the work carried out in the UK, total price in Budapest (including return flights and hotels) was around £6k. Kreativ also arranged hotels, transfers to & from Budapest airport and even a free public transport pass during the stay. Easyjet flights from Luton for about £30 return. There were some downsides - I had to use a lot of annual leave, a total of 4 visits each lasting between 3 and 5 days. Lots of time hanging around, but Budapest is a lovely city and very cheap. A year on, I've had no problems and my own dentist has been very complimentary about the standard of the work.

Last edited by Former MSE Natasha; 05-06-2007 at 12:49 PM.
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# 8
Sterling_geezer
Old 30-05-2007, 2:23 PM
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Heres a few bits of advice from a GP.

If you go abroad go to an English speaking country (or at the last make sure any correspondance/reports/Xrays etc are in English). Nothing worse than seeing a patient who has had an operation abroad, develops complications and then the GP has no idea whats going on as all the letters are in Spanish.

Speak to your GP first, they can advise you about what to expect, potential complications etc..

Makes sure you get enough painkillers afterwards ( and you might need a letter for airport security if they give codeine base painkillers)

Make sure you let your GP know what you had done so its in your medical record (it may or may be relevant if you develop problems in the future)

Do your research! Do you know anyone who has had the operation? What are their complication rates, post-op follow up etc..

Depending on what op you have you may be entitled to reimbursement from the Primary Care Trust if you had to go abroad because the waiting list was too long (don't hold your breath though as they are very tight with the cash)

Hope that helps!
&
Good luck.

Last edited by Former MSE Natasha; 05-06-2007 at 12:51 PM.
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# 9
Coll1976
Old 30-05-2007, 2:44 PM
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I had a tummy tuck in Spain with a company called Mills and Mills run by a British couple. The hospital used to be Sophia Loren's house and was a wonderful place to have the operation. I had a British woman called Louise looking after me for the 10 days I was out there and am still emailing her now over 6 months on. The whole package came in below £5000 and included a UK consultation with the surgeon who was to do my op, my return flight, the tummy tuck and liposuction, and 10 days accomodation. I paid for 3 extra plane tickets and we had a family holiday too! The accomodation was great, the whole experience was great, and the people were friendly and helpful, something I fear I would not have experienced had I been in the UK (and I would have paid a lot more for the privelage!). Oh and I had post op check ups for 6 months when I returned home. I wouldn't hesitate to go abroad in the future, and Spain is only an hours flight away, so I would probably get there quicker than I would get to London! I think they do dentistry there too!

Last edited by Former MSE Natasha; 05-06-2007 at 12:53 PM.
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# 10
feesh
Old 30-05-2007, 5:56 PM
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If anyone is interested in hip resurfacing, which is a much less invasive alternative to a hip replacement (it doesn't involve amputation of the femur, it allows you to be a LOT more active as there are no post-op restrictions, and it should also last longer and be a lot easier to replace) then you might want to look on http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/surfacehippy/

I have been lucky enough to have it offered privately in England, and there are many wonderful NHS surgeons doing it now, but I understand that in some PCT areas, the NHS is not able to offer it.

A lot of the Americans on the above forum go to Drs De Smet (Belgium) or Bose (India) to have it done, De Smet and Bose being 2 of the best hip doctors in the world. The general advice from the forum is that surgery with Bose costs about £6,000 and slightly higher with De Smet, and that the medical tourism companies which offer complete packages are to be avoided, as you can do it all a lot cheaper yourself.

If you want it done, definitely join the surfacehippy Yahoo group, as you will learn a LOT! There is also a similar British group called 'hipsrus'

Fingers crossed for my own op in August (thankfully I only have to go as far as Brum!)
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# 11
yogayogi
Old 30-05-2007, 6:03 PM
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Default A great alternative to the UK

I developed a prostate problem which needed surgery and had a TURP operation in Singapore. Couldn't recommend them more highly.

Arrived Sunday, saw the consultant Monday, in hospital having the operation Tuesday, couple of days in a private room followed by ten days convalescence in a nice hotel in a fascinating country. Even including the airfares & hotel, much cheaper than the UK - and no waiting!

All the personnel were fluent in English. Lots of attentive staff in the hospital. The (Singaporean) consultant/surgeon qualified FRCS in London & Glasgow! No UK red tape - during the consultation the surgeon had his secretary phoning around to see which hospital still had space in their operating rooms that week. His attitude was "it will take an hour whether we do it tomorrow or next week, so if there's space let's do it tomorrow". No writing letters back and forth over weeks like in the UK.

An added bonus: these guys are used to cutting up Asians - who usually have much smaller bodies than Europeans. As they are used to having to work very precisely on Asians' smaller organs, our larger bodies are a piece of cake. Meaning excellent results.

How to have confidence in an unknown hospital? Look for hospitals with accreditation from the Joint Commission International (JCI), the international arm of the body that accredits American hospitals.


Anything I need in the future (and cannot get promptly on the NHS) I'll be straight on a plane back there!
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# 12
yogayogi
Old 30-05-2007, 6:07 PM
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Default Article from "The Economist"

With acknowledgement to the Economist have a look at this excellent recent article on the subject. Subscriptions available at Economist.com


Medical tourism
Sun, sand and scalpels

Mar 8th 2007 | BANGKOK
From The Economist print edition
Soaring health-care costs in the rich world offer Asian firms an opportunity

AMERICA'S soaring health-care costs, already $2 trillion a year, are predicted to double in the coming decade. Dissatisfaction with the rocketing price of care will only get worse as demanding and health-conscious “baby-boomers” hit retirement and start to suffer the costly ailments of old age.

In countries like Britain and Canada, with supposedly universal coverage, state spending is not keeping up with growing demand, so patients face long and agonising waits for operations. And in the prosperous bits of Asia and the Middle East growing numbers of people are rich enough to demand high-quality medical care that they cannot get locally.

All this presents a fantastic business opportunity for those Asian countries, principally Thailand, Singapore and India, which have excellent private hospitals that are used to treating foreigners and where costs are a fraction of those in rich countries. “Medical tourism” is booming as patients look abroad for cheap, fast treatment, often combined with a holiday afterwards. Josef Woodman, the author of “Patients Beyond Borders”, a new guide for those seeking surgery abroad, reckons that 150,000 Americans did so last year, and predicts the numbers will double this year.

Booming demand is encouraging rapid expansion at big stockmarket-listed hospital operators such as Thailand's Bumrungrad and Bangkok Dusit, Singapore's Parkway and Pacific Healthcare and India's Apollo Hospitals. This week Pacific Healthcare said it would build seven medical centres across Asia. Bumrungrad, which treated 430,000 non-Thais last year, has just expanded its Bangkok hospital and is setting up in the Philippines and Dubai.

Singapore is more expensive than Thailand, but still far cheaper than America. Goh Jin Hian, the head of Parkway's Gleneagles Hospital, says Singapore should try to compete for the most complex treatments, leaving cosmetic surgery and other price-sensitive operations to lower-cost rivals such as Thailand. Nevertheless, like the Thai hospital operators, he is sure the medical-travel boom will provide plenty of foreign patients for them all.

Mr Woodman reckons that today's boom is just the start. So far, most medical tourists pay their own way. But the Asian hospital operators are now courting American health insurers and employers desperate to rein in soaring costs. Bumrungrad's marketing chief, Ruben Toral, who was in America this week for talks with insurers and big employers, says they were very keen. BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina already offers Bumrungrad's cut-price treatments to members whose policies do not cover the surgery they need.

To reassure foreign patients, many hospitals are seeking accreditation from the Joint Commission International (JCI), the international arm of the body that accredits American hospitals. Thailand's Bumrungrad and nine Singaporean hospitals already have JCI certificates. Raymond Chong, the boss of Bangkok Dusit's Samitivej Hospital, reckons it will be only a year or two before big American insurers and employers routinely offer patients lower premiums if they are prepared to travel to a foreign JCI-accredited hospital for surgery.

For patients, employers and insurers the benefits are clear. But the hospital operators are bracing themselves for a backlash from the rich countries' medical vested interests whose jobs are, in effect, being outsourced. Expect much shroud-waving from doctors' associations and health-care unions as they highlight the few cases of foreign surgery that go wrong—as though such a thing never happens back home.
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# 13
woolybully
Old 30-05-2007, 7:57 PM
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my wife & i visit goa nearly every year & were highly scepticle about using the country's dental system !! how wrong we were.
i was the one who initialy "tested the water" & what a fantastic result. we were introduced by our taxi driver, & cut a long story short, myself, my wife & my 2 daughters have all attended this dentist with exeptional results (and saved approx £ 7000.00)
the biggest surprise is that my wife hasn't visited a dentist since the law was passed that you can't be anethetised, but this dentist spent 2 hours with her, reassuring her that all would be fine & the result is she can now visit him without any qualms whatsoever.
if anybody is interested he is dr piedade fernandes in cavelossim goa.
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# 14
greeneye
Old 30-05-2007, 10:32 PM
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Anyone else a little dubious about the recomendations on here from people who've never posted before and/or only joined today?? :rolleyes:

But I am interested in dental implants in hungary so if anyone else who doesn't have a vested interest (not suggesting those who have mentioned it fall into the above catergory) wants to share their expierience be good to here how you got on.

Last edited by greeneye; 30-05-2007 at 10:40 PM.
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# 15
kitaj
Old 31-05-2007, 12:12 AM
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Surely not, Greeneye - how cynical of you... I'm interested in Hungarian dental surgery too, now that all my teeth have crumbled and NHS dentists are non-existent (Thanks Thatch...) I've seen a TV prgramme that said good things about it but I don't know anyone who's actually been so I'd be very grateful for any first hand experiences....
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# 16
reehsetin
Old 31-05-2007, 12:19 AM
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always said use american or brit hospitals abroad because you can usually be sure that they arent buying copy drugs but are buying from the pharmaceutical companies
Yes Your Dukeiness
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# 17
tinny lizzie
Old 31-05-2007, 8:09 AM
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Default Dentistry in India

I have been recommended to visit Dr Thomas, Doctors Dental Clinic in Trivandrum, Sth India. Have planne to visit in November. Has anyone any experience? His emails seem very very genuine with a 15 yr promise on Crowns or replacement if they break.
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# 18
simploerob
Old 31-05-2007, 8:22 AM
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my wife is polish so when ever we visit her parents we go to the dentist. lucky for me i have not had to have any work done, but would not hesitate to go there to have it done.
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# 19
HoneyPhilip
Old 31-05-2007, 8:39 AM
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Default Dental & Optical

My wife is Filipino and for some while now I have had my eyes tested and bought glasses whenever we go over there - much cheaper - Oakley frames at 'own brand' UK prices. One time we went, it was (tactfully) suggested that I see a dentist about my crooked stained teeth (ex smoker - never bothered me - I don't have to look at them!!). I had not even considered cosmetic dentistry in the UK so have no idea about price, but I had 8 teeth on the bottom and 4 on the top corrected in three seesions ALL PAIN FREE WITH NO ANAESTHETIC (no, I have no idea how that works...) at a total cost of £35. This was 18 months ago, I have had no problems with them, my UK dentist is very impressed by the quality of the work, my Filipino dentist reckons I might need them re-doing in 10 years (big deal!!). Return flight to Manila from the UK costs around £400, and The Philippines is a wonderful country for a holiday.
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# 20
Denzelpuppy
Old 31-05-2007, 9:40 AM
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Smile Budapest for sure

I have literally just returned this week from Budapest after having extensive dental work carried out which included 3 bridges, 4 veneers toth whitening, and bonded fillings for £3K I was quoted over here in the UK £385 just for one crown as there are no NHS dentists in our area available. I went to "The Implant Centre" in Budapest (www.implantcentre.hu) I was met at the airport, £80 return Easyjet Luton- but Ryan Air will start from nottingham in October) driven to my arptment(£150 for the week and brand new) which they had arranged for me, was collected and returned each and everyday, the clinic had specialist Dr's for various aspects of Dentistry , Maxiofacial surgeons, Implant specialists etc and even a Smile designer, all spoke perfect english, the treatment was A1 the equipment was the best I'd seen and I felt totally at ease and I am a real nervous patient, my treatment was completed within 5 days. It is time these Licensed Bandits posing as Dentists in the UK woke up and smelt the roses and realised they soon wont have a industry, if they dont stop ripping people off 3K in budapest compared to £14K in the UK do the sums it's a no brainer!!!!!
if i had known then what i know now
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