Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Are You A Good Candidate For Medical Tourism?

Here's a quiz I wrote at the request of my colleague and fellow BCG alum, David Williams who runs This is a site dedicated to international medical travel (also called medical tourism) for Americans.

Many factors go into deciding whether you are a good candidate for going abroad for a particular procedure and a destination you may have in mind. Reducing these into a single quiz runs the risk of over-simplification. The scores and conclusions from it are not a substitute for common sense and are certainly not medical advice. But they can give some idea about your suitability. There's a reason why some choices are not labeled in continuous alphabetical order.

10 Question Quiz:

1. How much traveling have you done?

a. A lot, including to the region where my intended foreign hospital is located
b. Quite a bit by air, though not to my intended medical travel destination
c. Rarely by air, though some by ground (driving, train, etc.) in the US
d. Never / hardly ever

2. How fit are you to travel?

a. My doctor and I foresee no / hardly any problems
c. I am at very low risk, and can further minimize this with precautions
e. My risk is quite low, but much higher than for an average traveler
f. My doctor has advised against air/extended travel under any circumstances

3. What is the treatment and recovery time for the procedure (before you can fly back)?

a. Less than a week for minor procedures, 2 weeks for major ones
b. 7 - 10 days for minor procedures, or 2 - 4 weeks for major ones
c. 10 - 20 days for minor procedures, or 4 - 8 weeks for major ones
d. Over 20 days for minor procedures, or over 8 weeks for major ones

4. What is you financial situation?

a. Very tight. The savings from foreign treatment will save me from bankruptcy
b. So-so. I can just about afford US care but take a large hit to my savings
c. Comfortable. I can easily afford the US care but will welcome savings
d. Very good. Paying for US care is not a problem at all

5. Approximately how much will your intended treatment cost you in the US?

a. More than $50,000
b. $30,000 - $50,000
c. $10,000 - $30,000
d. $4,000 - $10,000 ($2,000 - $10,000 if you're driving distance away)
f. Below $4,000 (below $2,000 if you're driving distance away)

6. Is the added privacy and anonymity of treatment abroad (e.g., cosmetic surgery) important to you?

a. Very important
b. Somewhat important
d. Not a factor
e. Quite the opposite - I strongly prefer lots of friends and family close at hand

7. How much do you expect to save through treatment abroad?
(Consider your out of pocket costs, factoring in your insurance coverage, if any.)

a. Over 75% of the cost AND this works out to over $10,000
b. 50% - 75% of the cost AND/OR this works out to $5,000 - $10,000
c. 30% - 50% of the cost AND/OR this works out to $5,000 - $10,000
d. 15% - 30% of the cost (0% - 30% if your answer to "6" above is "a")
f. Below 15% of the cost (but choose "d" if your answer to "6" above is "a")

8. How much do you value sight-seeing and the experience of going to a new place?

a. Very important - it's one of the reasons I want to go abroad
b. A good side-benefit but my treatment quality is by far my key priority
c. Hardly matters - but if it helps pass the time while recuperating, that's nice
d. I dislike unfamiliar surroundings, and dread going to a new place

9. Are you familiar with the culture and the language spoken in the country you plan to travel to?

a. Very/quite familiar, and most or all of the people there speak my language
b. Not too familiar, but most or all of the people I'll be with speak my language
c. Not familiar, but many people at the hospital and hotel speak my language
d. The doctor and some of my hospital and hotel staff speak my language

10. How internet savvy are you?

a. Excellent at researching through Google (or equivalent), regular email user
b. Use email; occasionally surf the internet
c. Rarely use email or internet
d. I don't use the internet (someone else is helping with this quiz!)


Give yourself 3 points for an "a"; 2 points for a "b"; 1 point for a "c"; zero points for a "d"; minus 3 points for an "e"; and minus 15 points for an "f".

Add your points and rate yourself for the condition and destination that you have in mind:

25 - 30 points: You are an excellent candidate
20 - 24 points: You are likely still a very good candidate
15 - 19 points: You may gain significantly from this option, but weigh it carefully
6 - 14 points: The pros of your medical travel are probably outweighed by the cons
5 points or below: There's no place like home, including for medical care

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