Friday, 11 January 2013

Vacation and medical treatments all rolled into one?

When we hear talk of sandy beaches, and of friends or family heading to sunnier lands like those of Central America, our associative thoughts rarely ever lead us to think “medical care.” Nevertheless, the practice of traveling abroad to seek healthcare treatments and procedures at lower costs is an ever-growing trend, and we expect that more and more Canadians will be doing this in the future.

While traveling abroad for healthcare is a common practice among citizens of other countries, most Canadians have never considered traveling abroad for treatment. Canada certainly offers its citizens an excellent standard of medical care—and usually at no cost, to boot—that you would hardly expect a Canadian to believe that there might be something to the idea of seeking healthcare elsewhere. Indeed, this concept of our various provinces’ superior healthcare systems has solidified the opinion, in most Canadians’ minds, that Canada is one of the very few places in the world with such exceptional health care. Certainly, our system is one that we take a great deal of pride in, and rightfully so. However, when it comes to elective treatments, some Canadians are now turning to the trend that looks for a bargain treatment and vacation all rolled into one.

One of the first questions that comes to mind about this practice is: how can other countries possibly offer comparable treatments at such low costs? Won’t these treatments necessarily be inferior? And the pleasing answer to this question is, not at all. Here’s why: while Canada’s inflation rates have not been quite so bad as those of the US, they are still high in comparison with other countries. The cost of living has increased very, very rapidly in Canada at a pace that outstrips that of most other countries. Since many of these foreign countries have lower wages, lower costs of living, lower material costs, and so forth, it stands to reason that they can provide comparable healthcare services to Canada at much lower costs. For example, in 2011, 100 000 Canadians and Americans traveled to Costa Rica alone seeking healthcare there. Costa Rica is only one of several countries that offer a high standard of living, clean food, and fluency in English to visitors who make this their destination.

Should you find yourself considering, at any point, traveling abroad to seek medical treatment, now more than ever, you should make sure you purchase travel insurance. This is because you are necessarily in a situation where the expectation for medical emergencies is higher than if you were completely healthy and traveling for leisure purposes only. If you plan to seek treatments abroad, it’s worth speaking with your insurance provider about getting the best possible coverage while you are away. Chances are your broker will also be able to provide you with useful information about good destinations they’ve learned of from their other clients as well.


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