Canadians travel to every corner of the planet – we are avid tourists, explorers and connoisseurs of the delights of foreign travel. And sometimes, we may access medical care while travelling; this might be due to a medical emergency such as illness or injury, but there is an increasing trend toward medical tourism, also known as medical travel or health tourism.
A medical tourist visits another country in order to receive medical care that is either unavailable or for which there may be an extended wait in their region. The Canadian government suggests steps to take for anyone contemplating a trip abroad for medical reasons: first, discuss your medical care plans with your Canadian healthcare provider before leaving and follow up when you return; ensure that your health insurance covers medical procedures in other countries; verify the risks, if any, of airline travel after your chosen procedure, and bring back copies of any medical records, including the procedure you underwent, medications you received, and the results of any medical tests. It is vitally important that you be informed about the source of any tissues or organs if you undergo a transplant abroad. Also, you should consult a health care provider upon your return to Canada if you suffer from chronic illness, were treated for malaria while travelling, or experience any other illness such as fever, jaundice, skin disorders, urinary or genital infections, vomiting, or persistent diarrhea.
Many people are travelling between Canada and Japan as medical tourists; both countries offer excellent medical care with particular areas of expertise. While the Japanese are known for innovative medical technology and rigorous study, Canadian schools of medicine offer training in some of the most advanced forms of medical care available worldwide. Specialized travel insurance policies allow foreign patients to travel to Tokyo or any other large Japanese city with major medical facilities to undergo specialty testing, procedures and medical treatments such as surgeries, biopsies and transplants.
While the wealthy and powerful have, for years, travelled the globe for the best and most innovative medical care, increasing globalization and reduced-cost travel options have made medical tourism a possibility for the average Canadian. And it is a very lucrative industry; in some countries the medical industry is the largest source of income, and opening it to foreign patients allow them to multiply their revenue.
Promoting foreign exchange, the global economy, and good diplomatic relations in addition to providing quality healthcare, for many, medical tourism is truly the way of the future.