Is Lower Cost Treatment Enough?

Today we hone in on reason #4, lower cost (note this is not a ranking, just where it happens to fall in our Top 6 Reasons for Medical Travel).  Cost, a significant driver for many medical travelers, can be somewhat elusive and variable.  While cost disparities, based on very general pricing schemes, alone can separate domestic healthcare options from international healthcare options, once this initial determination has been made, how does one further differentiate on cost discrepancies within specific geographies?  In addition to the variance associated with each unique individual, cost will also vary due to: (1) quality of materials, (2) chosen doctor, and (3) the specific hospital and/or clinic.  These elements are very important to the decision process and are often lost on the websites of traditional medical tourism facilitators.  Either there is no cost info given or it is very general and filters out the nuance without any explanation (as recounted in my Awkward Landing post).

In the case of a dental implant procedure, for example, the quality of materials used has a huge impact on the pricing.  A dental implant consists of 3 parts: (1) the implant, (2) the abutment, and (3) the crown.  The implant itself is a small screw made out of titanium, which, once it is placed in the jaw, bonds with your bone through a process called osseointegration.  The screws are necessarily all made from titanium to enable this bonding process to occur.  The second piece, the abutment attaches to the screw and supports the crown.  As far as quality goes, it ranges from Mercedes Benz to Ford Pinto.  With respect to the crown specifically, this is more of an artisan piece.  Crowns are created in a dental laboratory, either by hand or using a milling machine with materials including porcelain and zirconium.  Because each crown is custom made for each patient, there is a fair amount of art involved in their production (which must also account for the unique properties of each material).  Considering all of these elements, it’s clear to see why prices are varied; however, when these highly variable qualities are collapsed into one all encompassing cost figure by a third party, the ability of the user to differentiate and avoid opting in to poor quality procedures is compromised.  Getting that next level of clarity takes a direct connection with international doctors; thus, establishing this 1:1 patient-doctor relationship is key and will ensure that you make the best choice for your health.

by Ellery Bledsoe

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