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Medical holidays - here's what you need to know.

Retirement  |  6/07/2018  |   7 min read

Whether it’s dental work, cosmetic surgery, or more serious procedures, a growing number of Australians are heading overseas for medical treatment.

Approximately 15,000 Australians travel overseas for surgery every year, spending $300 million in the process. It’s known as medical tourism, and the people heading overseas range in age and background, with retirees making up an increasingly large percentage.

But how safe is it, how much can you save, and what do you need to be aware of?

Medical holidays.

The amount of people looking at overseas medical options is increasing every year, and cost remains the primary motivator. With local health insurance premiums going up by approximately 5% every year, many Australians are finding themselves unable to afford the costs of a basic hospital policy, let alone one with extras such as dental cover.

That makes overseas markets very attractive, and even when you factor in the additional costs of travel, accommodation, and insurance, the price differences can be significant. The ABC reports a tummy tuck that costs $30,000 here can be had for $8,000 in Thailand. Dental work is much the same, another article for Traveller magazine noted that a major dental surgery that was quoted at $25,000 here was done for $5000 in Thailand.

Buyer beware

According to a survey conducted by WorldFirst, “64% of over-50s would consider travelling overseas for dental work. 26% would undergo cancer treatment overseas, and 23% would consider travelling overseas for plastic surgery.”

But overseas medical holidays aren’t without risks, and anyone considering this option needs to do their research and be aware of the potential problems.

If you are considering going under the knife in another country, ensure:

  • The doctor and clinic have the appropriate qualifications and experience to perform these procedures, 
  • The doctor and clinic have appropriate post-surgical critical-care facilities if things go wrong;
  • The doctor and clinic keep accurate records in English to ensure continuity of service when you return to Australia;
  • You understand what you are consenting to and any forms you sign are written in English;
  • The risks and complications are explained to you;
  • You know who will be liable for the cost of any revision or corrective surgery if things go wrong; and
  • Your travel insurance will cover you for the medical procedure/s. This can be easier said than done, with most travel insurance not applying to elective overseas surgery. 


Concerned about your retirement income? An Equip financial planner can help you understand your options, and get more out of life. Find out more about our fees and service by clicking here.

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