5 Potential Problems With Traveling Abroad for Surgery

5 Potential Problems With Traveling Abroad for Surgery

So, you are considering medical tourism as an option.

 Traveling Abroad for Surgery







Here are 5 issues you should consider before booking that flight.

  1. Insurance: Chances are your Provincial MSP will cover very little if any of procedures performed in foreign countries so don’t expect to be reimbursed for the expense. If you have extended health insurance coverage, check with your provider. Again, it’s unlikely foreign procedures are eligible. Many expenses can be claimed through your Canada Smart Plan (Health Spending Account) but be sure to confirm the eligibility. Cosmetic procedures are not eligible unless medically required.
  2. Malpractice Laws: Be advised that the main reason medical procedures are so inexpensive overseas is partially due to the lack of medical malpractice insurance. Doctors and hospitals pass those savings on to you. The lack of coverage does not mean they are necessarily doing anything wrong. Quite the contrary. It just means that the laws governing malpractice in foreign countries are very different than those in North America. Translation: You have no recourse to sue.
  3. Recovery Issues: Medical professionals in the North America have expressed concern that patients will be rushed through recovery and forced back onto a plane. This is unlikely but make sure you schedule enough vacation time to be able to recovery completely. It is also important to note that doctors always recommend keeping scars out of direct sunlight for the first 12 months after surgery. It helps the healing process and to minimize the discoloration. So, do not plan on spending your recovery in a lawn chair at the pool.
  4. Traveling Home: When you are fully recovered, another concern arises with long, international flights and the risk of blood clots. Discuss any concerns you have with your doctor but it is always a good idea, post-op or otherwise, to get up and walk around every hour on long flights to maintain proper blood flow. You could also spend some of the money you saved on upgrading to pricey first-class seats. Airline seats are notoriously cramped but first-class can offer considerable more legroom.
  5. Follow Up Care: Under normal circumstances, a patient schedules several check-ups with their doctor after surgery, sometimes as far out as 12 months post-operative. This can be difficult when the surgeon is in Phuket and you are in Okotoks. Be sure to ask your primary care physician if they can perform follow-up care or inquire with your medial travel agency on their standard protocol.


The advantages to medical tourism are very real but so are the risks. Be sure you weigh out the pros and cons before making your decision to go ahead with surgery. If you feel the advantages are greater than the risks then it’s time to pick your location and book your flight.

If you are a Canadian small business owner or self employed professional, chances are many foreign procedures are eligible expenses through Canada Smart Plan and can save you 30-40% ON TOP OF the savings you gain through medical tourism.

Remember: We can only approve receipts that are in English, and translated to Canadian Funds. The receipt must indicate the practitioners designation, the service provided and the patients name.

Regardless of whether you plan to explore medical tourism for health care, Canada Smart Plan can save you money on you and your family’s health expenses. And it’s FREE to sign up!

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