I know you’ve all heard of tourism, but have you ever heard of medical tourism. It’s really becoming a ‘thing’ these days. It’s basically where you go on holidays to a country that offers medical or dental treatments for a fraction of the price you’d pay in your own country.
Some countries are known for certain medical practices. Like, Turkey is well known for dental work, veneers and crowns. Belgium for boobs, Poland for hospital stays and surgeries. I personally know people who have availed of services in each of these countries for all of the above-mentioned procedures.
So basically, if you go on a two week sun holiday every year. You would plan your next one to Turkey and book in to have your teeth done while you’re there.
Beginning My Medical Tourism Experience
The first time I had to have some work done on my teeth while travelling was pure chance. I was staying in India for two months and began suffering a toothache. Clearly, I needed to see a dentist but had strong reservations about it as well, I was in India. I asked a friend for advice and she sent me to her dentist. I now felt a little more secure as my friend Kushboo clearly takes good care of her pearly whites.
Arriving at the address I was given on Linking Road, Mumbai, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Let me assure you I was very pleasantly surprised. The dental clinic was ultra modern with flat screen TVs on the walls and everything was in pristine condition. The dentist herself was super confident and really put me at ease. I had the filling done in no time and to be honest I’ve yet to be in a dentist anywhere that has left such an impression on me. I was seriously impressed by the standard of care I got there and the hygiene and pure opulence of the clinic.
After this, I realised that it is possible to not only get cheaper medical care in other countries but actually better service too. So it’s something I’ve been very open to.
A Pain In The Neck
Recently I started suffering from bad headaches and a stiff neck. I went to my doctor who prescribed painkillers which, I wasn’t happy about this as I could have just taken painkillers myself. I didn’t need the doctor to tell me to take them. Anyway, painkillers only treat the symptom, they don’t treat the reason for the pain and I wanted to get to the bottom of this. So, I let this be known and I was offered an X-ray. I had to wait a few weeks for my X-ray appointment.
When the results finally came back. I got a call from my doctor who asked me to go see her as an irregularity had, in fact, showed up on my X-ray.
I was told there’s something called an Osteophyte on next that needs to be investigated. It is in a place on my C1/C2 spine that could be very dangerous and I need to have a CT scan done as soon as possible. I was given a referral letter and told to call the hospital here in Dublin to make an appointment for a CT scan. If they tell me the appointment won’t be for months I’ll “have to go private as this needs to be sorted.” My doctor’s exact words!
This frightened me, I’m sure you can understand.
Just Not Good Enough
After two weeks of calling the hospital in Dublin just trying to get a date for an appointment. They finally told me that the nearest available CT scan appointment was a year away. Imagine, I would have to wait one full year just to get a scan on my neck in order to begin investigating what the problem actually is. All this before I could even start any treatment that may be necessary. So I followed doctor’s orders and started calling private clinics to make an appointment.
I called three private hospitals here in Ireland. If I’m completely honest, two of the three were rude to me on the phone and treated me like they were doing me a favour. I got quotes from all, ranging from €350 – €450 for a scan that would take less than 15 minutes. However, none of them could offer me an appointment this week. One of them expected me to wait one month for an appointment. I wasn’t a happy punter and decided to take my search (and my business) further afield.
Going International – Medical Tourism
I began by Googling terms like ‘CT scans in Poland’ or ‘medical scan in Bratislava’. I found a number of clinics in Tallin, Riga, Vilnius that all offer CT scans cheaper than they are here in Ireland. Then I began looking on both Ryanair and Aer Lingus to see where they had special offer flights to. I found really cheap flights to Riga on Ryanair.com so I decided that’s where I’d narrow my search to. Then, began emailing any of the clinics I found in Riga that offers the type of scan I needed to get quotes and see how efficient they are. I also used the Google images search tab to see pictures of the clinics I was interested in. Just to ensure they look modern and acceptable. I also checked out their Facebook pages and read all the customer reviews. This actually helped me to avoid one clinic that I was considering. All the reviews were negative. I strongly recommend you follow all these steps and be vigilant.
Once I decided on my prefered clinic in Riga, I emailed them asking for an appointment. They asked me to send them a photo of my letter of referral from my doctor. They were happy with this and asked me when I’d like my appointment.
I booked flights and accommodation then got back to the clinic with the date that suited me for my appointment.
I flew to Riga, spent three days enjoying the sights of the city and absorbing the Latvian culture and on the last day I had my scan done. The clinic was lovely. My appointment for prompt and very professional. I paid €70 for my CT scan and €15 for the results to be translated into English. My results were emailed to me in three days, which I took to my doctor here in Ireland to be explained to me.
In total, my trip to Riga cost me €60 for flights. €85 for my CT scan. €21 for three nights hostel accommodation. The change I had out of what I would have spent in Ireland on the same scan I used as my spending money. So, for the same price as a CT scan here, I had a three day getaway in Riga plus my scan.
I’m delighted with myself with myself although, I’m not saying this is for everyone. I had a fabulous trip to Riga, a city I’ve wanted to see for ages. The results were great, I do have a little bit of a bone jutting out on one of my vertebrae in my neck which did need to be investigated but it’s not dangerous and I won’t need treatment. My mind is at ease. My wanderlust is appeased, for now. And, my money was better spent.
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