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The Great 'Medical Tourism' Hunt

edited 30 November -1 at 12:00AM in Health & Beauty MoneySaving
275 replies 75.2K views
MSE_MartinMSE_Martin MoneySaving Expert
8.3K posts
edited 30 November -1 at 12:00AM in Health & Beauty MoneySaving
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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  • LondonDivaLondonDiva Forumite
    3K posts
    1,000 Posts Combo Breaker I've been Money Tipped!
    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."
  • 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 ( 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.
  • gobattgobatt Forumite
    1 posts
    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
  • 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
  • pigeonpiepigeonpie Forumite
    1.2K posts
    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'.
  • 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.
  • Sterling_geezerSterling_geezer Forumite
    45 posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    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.
  • Coll1976Coll1976 Forumite
    3 posts
    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!
  • feeshfeesh Forumite
    328 posts
    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

    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!)
  • 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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