Medical Tourism: Going Abroad for Health Care


Medical-TourismWhen Tai and Jess began thinking about expanding their family, the options available didn’t seem quite right. In fact, they found that in vitro fertilization (IVF) in the States was significantly higher priced than one would hope. In addition to price and quality of care, the couple began considering the privacy of receiving medical care abroad.

With the help of Maria Maldonado, founder and CEO of Trip4Care, Tai and Jess traveled to Spain to receive their IVF treatment. “We were able to find them the best combination of price, quality, and privacy they desired,” Maldonado said. “Our mission is to help our clients find affordable medical/health care away from their place of residence without compromising the quality or experience level of the providers while delivering an unforgettable and positive experience along the way. We want to ensure that people can find affordable, quality healthcare that won’t break their budgets and let them experience the world in ways that they may never have been available.”

What Maldonado is referring to is known as medical tourism: people traveling to other countries for medical treatment and care. Medical tourism is also known as health travel, medical travel, or global health care, and it is now rapidly gaining acceptance by both the public and the medical community at large as a real solution to the high cost of health care in the United States. In other words, medical tourism can be defined as the act of traveling outside one’s own area of residence for health care.

“This can mean driving two-hundred miles from your home town, or flying half way around the globe to an exotic culture you know nothing about,” Maldonado adds. “For people without insurance, those who have to wait unacceptable amounts of time for care, or those needing medical procedures that insurance won’t cover, medical tourism offers an attractive alternative to rising healthcare costs.”

Certified by the Medical Tourism Association, Trip4Care focuses on finding the highest quality providers and facilities in destinations that are affordable and attractive to those who want to receive the best care at the best prices.

“Our team distinguishes itself from the competition because of our combined healthcare backgrounds in the operating room, quality, safety, and risk areas,” Maldonado says. “We partner with the best specialists and hospitals around the world and treat each client as a valuable human being with intrinsic worth. We know that we can impact the world in a positive way through every person we work with by allowing them to become healthier and invest in their futures.”

Trip4Care can help clients find many kinds of treatment and/or surgery. In fact, their most common treatments saught by clients are orthopedic surgeries, fertility treatment, stem cell treatment, cosmetic surgery, dental treatments, and bariatric surgery. However, some of the services that might be of interest to the GLBT community include fertility treatment (IVF, Reciprocal IVF, sperm/egg banks, etc.), surrogacy, gender reassignment surgery, or cosmetic surgery.

Maldonado adds, “In addition, our team is composed of people who do not judge people on gender, race, orientation, or belief. We are all out to help people in whatever ways we can, and want the best for each of our clients.”

Tai and Jess utilized Trip4Care for their reciprocal IVF, where the egg from one woman is harvested, fertilized, and then implanted into another woman (her partner in this case) to become pregnant and carry the child. Normally, the process goes off without a hitch; however, Tai and Jess’ work schedules made it necessary for them to travel to Barcelona twice. Also, because they had some time in between their first visit and the actual IVF treatment, some of the testing had to be done twice, something that Maldonado assures was beyond their control and had to do with their work schedule and planning. She says, “We do everything we can to try to prevent surprises but sometimes they are unavoidable.”

Luckily, their IVF was successful on their first attempt, and Tai and Jess are expecting their baby in early February. Maldonado says Trip4Care will be celebrating the birth.

Although Tai and Jess are just one couple that Trip4Care has helped secure health care for, Maldonado says Trip4Care works with many different kinds of people, working with various client needs. People without health insurance or people with health insurance looking for a procedure not covered by their policy (i.e. plastic surgery, fertility treatment, stem cell treatment, dental treatment, or bariatric surgery), for example. Trip4Care also works with people with health insurance but high deductibles, people looking for a treatment that it is not yet FDA approved but that is already being performed in other countries, and people with health coverage but on waiting lists for a particular treatment (i.e. this is a common reason given by people from Canada).

For those who have never traveled outside of their countries or countries like their own, Maldonado says there are some misperceptions about the quality of care that is available. According to her, these clients are often surprised that the care that is provided outside of their country can be of much higher quality than they are used to.

“In addition, other countries also often seem to provide much more time with patients, getting to know them as people,” she says, “which is part of the human touch that we seem to have lost in health care in the U.S. One of my partners was surprised by some of the processes that he saw used in hospitals throughout Mexico in his field of specialty. He had never seen anything like it in the U.S. and wondered why there wasn’t more international cooperation in his field.”

Not only will clients receive the attentive health care they need, but Maldonado says medical tourism comes at a fraction of the price they would pay in the U.S. “Pricing in medical travel is transparent, which helps the client avoid any kind of financial surprises when they receive the final bill,” she says. “The costs vary throughout the world and we can help people find the best combination of destination and prices to meet their needs. There are some destinations used by others in the industry that we do not believe are in the best interests of our clients. We feel that there are additional medical risks that other medical tourism facilitators may be unaware of that we don’t want our clients to face. This is why having a team with a clinical and public health background distinguishes us because we identify problems that may not even be visible to other medical tourism companies.”

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