PRINCETON, N.J., June 29 /PRNewswire/ -- In light of the economy and rising unemployment, people are looking to cut costs wherever they can. The costs of many surgeries and procedures continue to rise in the US, so many are looking to international healthcare for cheaper alternatives. Health Options Worldwide (HOW), a medical tourism website, was formed in 2008, in response to the growing medical tourism industry to develop solutions for the rising costs of healthcare. The big business is known as medical tourism, or medical travel, often promises low cost surgery and treatment options at a fraction of the cost from the United States. However, this is one area where bargain shopping is not recommended and it's HOW's mission to deliver high quality and affordable healthcare through international and domestic providers.
According to a study, over 750,000 Americans left the country in 2007 and spent $2.1 billion on cheaper medical treatments overseas. Medical travel is estimated to be growing at an annual rate of 20%-25%. By 2017, close to 23 million Americans will travel overseas for medical treatment. However, medical certification and accreditation is not governed in foreign countries as strictly as in the United States. Foreign doctors may be qualified, but it is vital to look into their credentials and references. The process is further complicated when dealing with foreign medical associations and regulations, especially when the medical facilities are privately owned. HOW's website is a comprehensive resource for users to research the education and expertise of participating physicians, before they leave their homes and travel to a foreign country.
Another important factor to consider is in the event something goes wrong, and how, if at all, the patient is protected. Medical malpractice and negligence are extremely difficult to resolve in a foreign country as opposed to in the United States. Medical tourism patients have very little legal leverage. Even if a patient is successful in the legal battle, there is no mandate for the physician to pay the settlement. This is one of the reasons why overseas procedures are so inexpensive.
A patient's private medical insurance may not apply abroad, and financial assistance is often needed, which is an important factor to consider. Even if the procedures are cheaper than those in the United States, a patient still has to come up with 100% of the payment prior to the procedure. Additionally, the patient is also responsible for their post-surgical care, which often includes a visiting nurse, physical therapy and lodging, resulting in higher costs. If a problem arises after surgery, it is often too costly to return to the original surgeon, so patients have to seek care at home in the US. These visits may require further treatment, which increases their costs. In the end, the savings may not be all that substantial. HOW offers affordable financing and advice to facilitate these matters.
The HOW website acts like a medical tourism agency, in the best interests of the patient, allowing them to research, request, and reserve medical treatments from the privacy of their own home. The site uses groundbreaking technology to match medical tourism healthcare providers with prospective patients. Physicians and hospital participate so they can showcase cost and quality, from routine medical issues to complex surgical procedures both at home and abroad, allowing them to provide benefits directly to the patient. HOW presents unbiased information in a simple and effective manner allowing patients to easily find the appropriate physician. Patients are not alone in making the decision to undergo international surgery. HOW is there every step of the way.
"It's important for patients to understand the risks and rewards for traveling overseas for medical treatment," says David Goldstein, HOW president, "because of this growing trend, more and more US based physicians are competing on price to retain some of these American patients traveling overseas. HOW wants to give patients all of the tools they need to make the appropriate choice for medical care."
SOURCE Health Options Worldwide (HOW)