Miami has always been a prime tourist destination, not just for people within the United States but also for those from Latin America, Canada, and the Caribbean. After all, it is a place known for its beautiful beaches, warm weather, high-class shopping malls, and five-star dining experiences.
But Miami is more than just a tourist spot, as it is also a burgeoning destination for Miami medical tourism, especially in the field of plastic surgery.
Medical tourism is defined as the process in which a patient travels to another destination – whether local or overseas – to avail of health, medical, and wellness services. For many people, this may seem like a hassle, but it certainly appeals to patient demographics looking for quality, affordable, and accessible healthcare.
Facts and Figures
According to 2014 figures, medical tourism brought in $6 million in revenue to Florida that year, thanks to almost 400,000 patients who flew to the state for health care purposes. This figure does not even consider the money spent by these tourists on lodging, shopping, food, and entertainment during recuperation, which can extend for an average of 11 nights.
Though plastic surgery is one of the top reasons why Miami attracts medical tourists, a lot of them also have varying goals. Some go to Miami for dental surgery, while others come in for more serious treatments, like cardiovascular surgery, orthopedic surgery, and oncology services – things that might not be available where they live. There are also people who patronize Miami’s holistic wellness industry, like those that improve mental health and help overcome drug and alcohol addictions.
The medical tourism market is so huge, that experts predict the industry will generate at least $100 billion globally every year, with Miami taking a significant share.
However, Miami medical tourism still has a long way to go before becoming an established force in the health care industry. Studies show that only five percent of all patients receiving treatment in Florida come from outside the state. Around 3.5 percent of these live in the USA, which means only 1.5 percent come from overseas.
Other destinations are also gaining ground in this industry. Reports forecast that by 2017, at least $228 million in medical care is going to leave the USA for foreign markets. This could continue to grow each year, given the rising costs of medical care.
A Strong Case for Miami Medical Tourism
There are other popular and cheaper medical tourism destinations, such as Singapore, Thailand, India, and Brazil. But why do people all over the world still flock to Miami, Florida for their medical tourism needs? Here are some of the reasons why.
According to Medical Tourism Association president Renee-Marie Stephano, the cultural diversity and laidback vibe in Florida is a huge draw. “It’s easy to get around. For patients to come, it makes a lot of sense,” she said.
There are also patients who prefer to recover on the beach than in their home, away from nosy neighbors and toxic environments. In Miami, a lot of options are available for the recuperating patient.
Strong State Support
Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism arm, has awarded grants to nine health care providers for its medical tourism initiative called the Global Medicine Program, which aims to promote Florida medical tourism domestically and internationally.
“We realized that south of us in Miami, there are some big organizations that have capitalized on this and have grown their program over the years, and we believe we can do the same thing,” said program director Lynn Stockford. “We want to provide an experience for patients who are not able to access this level of technology and expertise and are willing and able to travel.”
Established Tourism Industry
Florida is already known for its hearty hospitality, and the state can further capitalize its position by combining it with its credible reputation for quality and affordable health care.
Just like what Tony Carvajal, executive vice president of Florida Chamber Foundation, said, “If we can get people connecting those two ideas together – great health care, great hospitality – Florida should win this game. It’s a fantastic opportunity for diversifying our economy and diversifying our health care industry.”
It is also important to note that patients are not the only targets of Miami medical tourism. When they go to Miami for a medical procedure, they bring with them family members who help support them during the recovery process. These relatives also eat out in local restaurants, shop in neighborhood stores, and treat themselves to varying forms of entertainment during their longer-than-traditional stay in Miami.
Destination packages are also a popular option in Miami, where everything has already been put together – from the hospitals down to the lodging and restaurants, making the whole experience hassle-free.
“When people are traveling, particularly international travelers, they want the totality of the experience, and that’s what we can offer them,” Carvajal added.
As one of the most popular medical tourism hubs in the world, there are plenty of doctor and hospital choices in Miami. The healthy competition has given rise not just to affordable plastic surgeries in Miami, but also high-quality services unparalleled in the world. This ensures that patients receive satisfying results on their surgeries, making it a bang for their buck. Miami’s health systems are also continuously growing and expanding, which means that more high-quality choices will be available soon.
Candidates for Medical Tourism
Technically speaking, anyone who wants to travel to get medical care is a good candidate for a medical tourism vacation. But in general, medical tourism patients in the USA can be grouped into three broad categories based on insurance coverage:
These are patients who are completely paying for their own medical treatment. The majority of overseas patients fall under this category. They might also be seeking treatments that are not usually covered by insurance, like plastic surgeries done for cosmetic purposes. Hence, they are required to pay for their procedures in full.
Uninsured or Underinsured Patients
Uninsured patients also have no choice but to pay for themselves because they have no health insurance coverage. On the other hand, underinsured patients have health insurance coverage, but their policies might have high deductibles or high co-insurance, requiring them to still pay a portion of their medical procedures.
Corporate Insured Market
This category refers to patients who have access to all health care options through their employer. Employers also end up as Miami medical tourism clients because there may be cases when they send their high-level employees to a hospital in Miami to avail of executive check-ups and physical exams. There might also be instances in which a company outsources health care services to hospitals out of state or even out of the country. These allow businesses to avail of lower health care costs and get better value for their money.
Medical Procedures in Miami
Miami offers a plethora of medical treatments, some of which are the following:
Executive Physical Exams
This covers a series of tests that helps determine a person’s overall state of health. Popular among businessmen and professionals, executive physical exams aim to rule out conditions like heart diseases, diabetes, and cancer. Some of the tests often included in the executive check-up include:
- Complete blood work
- Diagnostic imaging like x-rays and CT scans
- Cardiovascular tests like ECG and stress test
- Nutritional counseling
Done to correct conditions associated with the musculoskeletal system, orthopedic surgeries are very popular among older patients and athletes. Some of the most common procedures done include total hip replacement, total or partial knee replacement, total shoulder replacement, hip resurfacing, meniscal repair, ACL reconstruction, arthroscopy, and spinal surgeries.
Patients looking to undergo orthopedic surgeries should be prepared to spend around one to three weeks in Miami, depending on the complexity of the procedure. While the preparation and actual procedure can be done within days, extensive recuperation and rehabilitation are necessary before going home.
Those seeking treatment for their heart ailments can also visit Miami for such purpose. The most popular cardiovascular treatments in the city include coronary artery bypass graft, heart valve replacement, angiography, and angioplasty.
Again, simpler procedures like coronary angiography without intervention can be completed immediately, with the patient being able to travel back home 48 hours after discharge. More complicated procedures, like the coronary bypass, would require a 15 to 21-day stay in Miami.
These treatments aim to cure cancer or at least slow down its progression. A lot of hospitals in Miami offer chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, or a combination of these services for cancer patients.
Neurology focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases involving the nervous system. Examples of these diseases include seizures, aneurysms, chronic headaches, stroke, and movement disorders. Patients with neurological problems often require a high degree of medical and surgical care, specialized tests, and interventional therapy.
Organ transplants are highly complex surgical procedures involving the replacement of a diseased organ with a healthy organ from another person or a cadaver. As such, it necessitates a multidisciplinary team of medical experts and patient advocates to make sure of optimal results. Commonly transplanted organs include the kidney, liver, lung, and heart.
Patients who undergo organ transplant usually need to stay a week in the hospital, plus additional extended stay in Miami before traveling home.
Any surgery that is done on fetuses, infants, children, adolescents, and young adults fall under the specialization of pediatric surgery. Miami has many pediatric surgeons with expertise on complex conditions like congenital anomalies, childhood cancers, and traumas.
This category specializes in the correction of eye diseases, such as cataracts, retinal detachment, corneal ulcers, and refraction problems. Most ophthalmology procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, though patients still have to follow-up within four days to a week post-surgery.
This branch of medicine deals with the surgical treatment of ear, nose, and throat diseases. Examples of commonly performed procedures include myringotomy, tonsillectomy, endoscopic sinus surgery, tympanoplasty, mastoidectomy, microlaryngoscopy, and endoscopic cordectomy. Most of these procedures require one to two days of hospitalization.
Dental treatments are one of the most popular procedures that people go to Miami for. Miami dentists offer a wide range of dental specializations, from orthodontics and dental surgery to pediatric dentistry and endodontics. Patients can get porcelain veneers, dental crowns, dental implants, porcelain inlays, dental bonding, and white fillings in Miami. Most of these procedures can be completed within days and with very little discomfort.
Miami medical tourism is never complete without plastic surgery, which encompasses a long list of treatments aiming to enhance a person’s appearance. Some of the most popular cosmetic surgeries in Miami include breast augmentation, breast lift, tummy tuck, liposuction, facelift, eyelid lift, and rhinoplasty.
Though many plastic surgeries can be done on an outpatient basis, most patients still need to stay in Miami for one to two weeks after the surgery for follow-up care and recovery.
Miami also has a lot of reputable cosmetic surgery clinics that cater to medical tourism clients, like Face + Body Cosmetic Surgery.
Considerations in Miami Medical Tourism
Medical tourism is more than just packing one’s bag and flying off to a hospital in Miami to have a treatment done. It is important to be meticulous about certain things that could affect the outcome of the surgery.
Here are the top considerations when it comes to Miami medical tourism.
When it comes to choosing a doctor, the price is not enough. It is extremely important to make sure that your doctor is licensed, board-certified, and qualified to perform the procedure that you need. Check out your doctor’s affiliations and see if the hospital or healthcare organization he belongs to is accredited by an international accrediting body like the Joint Commission International. Plastic surgeons should also be certified by both the American Board of Plastic Surgery and American Board of Surgery.
Another consideration is his experience, as the length of his experience says a lot about his skills and abilities. Aside from that, he should also have an impressive body of work backed by positive testimonies from his previous clients. Websites like Real Self and Health Grades contain hundreds of reviews about doctors all over the globe.
You should also think about how your doctor is planning to give you follow-up care even if you live on the other side of the world.
Just like your physician, your chosen hospital or clinic should be a major consideration in your decision-making process. Make sure that the facility you choose has modern and state-of-the-art facilities coupled with the highest accreditation standards. To ensure a breezy medical tourism experience, it should also have a medical travel process for both local and international patients.
Medical Tourism Agency
It helps to work with a reputable medical tourism agent as they already have a list of hospitals that have met their health care standards. They also have good working relationships with doctors in these hospitals, resulting in priority communication status.
Many Miami medical tourism agencies offer hassle-free packages for those who want to have everything taken care of. They arrange your flights, accommodation, and even your surgery schedule. They are ready to assist you anytime a problem arises.
Read more about what you should look for in your doctor and destination in this article.
Risks and Dangers
If there are countless advantages to having your plastic surgery done in Miami, there are also risks involved. Awareness of these risks allows you to become more vigilant in avoiding them.
Exposure to Infections
Infections are one of the biggest risks of medical tourism, as different places in the world also have different standards for sanitation. Sometimes, medical facilities and equipment can appear to be unsanitary. You may end up with a serious disease like HIV or hepatitis just from using dirty needles and unsterile surgical equipment.
A language barrier can be a huge problem especially if you are seeking treatment in a country in which the language is not familiar to you. You may not be able to properly communicate your health issues or ask for help if something goes wrong. Misunderstandings can also lead to serious complications after treatment.
Lack of Recovery and Follow-Up Care
Your treatment does not end in the hospital, as post-operative recovery and follow-up care are also crucial for the success of your procedure. You never know when you will require treatments for complications or infection that might arise after surgery, such as deep vein thrombosis or worse, pulmonary embolism.
In Florida, cosmetic surgeons are not required to obtain specialty certification, meaning he may be offering different kinds of surgeries even though he is only trained in one kind. Hence, it is important to make sure that you are receiving treatment from a board-certified surgeon.
Foreign medical facilities make it difficult for you to pursue a case, as foreign land means foreign rules. A malpractice suit is often too expensive or even impossible to launch from overseas. It could take years to settle if there is any recourse at all.
Learn more about The Top 8 Risks and Dangers of Medical Tourism in this article.
Tips for Safe Medical Travel
- Research your medical provider and medical facility with utmost care if you want to have a pleasant medical tourism experience without complications.
- Plan your trip methodically and understand as much as you can about the medical tourism process. You can check out this guide on how you can plan your Miami medical tourism trip.
- Always ask for information that will help you in your decision-making process, such as your doctor’s credentials and hospital performance indicators.
- Bring a companion, especially if you are going to undergo a procedure with some downtime involved.
- Provide a few days of rest before you travel back home and resume work in order to give you time to fully recover.
- Travel as comfortably as possible after surgery. If you can afford business class tickets, buy them instead of economy class.
- Always keep your medical records and contact information handy.
If you are looking for a viable destination for your medical tourism trip, look no further than Miami. It offers world-class facilities and highly experienced surgeons, especially in the field of cosmetic surgery.
An excellent clinic to consider is Face + Body Cosmetic Surgery Miami, which boasts of double board-certified and reputable surgeons like Dr. Nick Masri and Dr. Mark Broudo. Schedule a Free Consultation with one of them to discuss your concerns regarding medical tourism.