It is not always true that you get the quality of service for what you pay for because you usually pay a lot less for a lot more when it comes to medical tourism.
Although the price is the first factor that leads you to look for healthcare abroad, several other perks often escape your notice. However, the price difference remains the primary motivation for most people.
However, medical tourism in Colombia or elsewhere has its risks. If you are not familiar with this kind of service, we have also included at the bottom of this page the possible reasons not to travel abroad to have a good idea before planning the details of a trip.
If you choose Colombia and especially the city of Cartagena de Indias for your dental treatments, your cosmetic surgeries, your bariatric surgeries or some medical procedures, here are some of the most important benefits for you:
Colombia is no longer grappling with powerful drug cartels as it once was during Pablo Escobar, who died in 1993. Similarly, the guerillas like the FARC submitted to the peace plan put in place by the government.
Nowadays, the country is safer for foreigners and is often recognized as an increasingly visited tourist destination. Colombia has an excellent reputation in the field of cosmetic surgery and health care in general.
Several good reasons are evident for travelling to Colombia for your medical care:
1. Extremely affordable prices
Price is the primary motivation for people going abroad for medical treatment, but the situation is even better than the numbers suggest.
The figures, which are typically offered, range from 40 to 50% cheaper than in Canada and the USA. These estimates are based on Mexico, generally the most affordable option with excellent care for Canadians and Americans.
Although there is considerable variation, as a rule, Brazil, Mexico’s main competitor, costs around 20% more, while Colombia’s medical tourism has rated 20% cheaper than Mexico, so from savings between 50 and 75%.
To offer exceptional rates, certain elements help to reduce expenses in Colombia:
- The general university is free except for more advanced specializations;
- Doctors often do all the work without help;
- Greater awareness of people’s economic reality;
- Excellent management of operating costs;
- A lower cost of living;
- Reasonable and acceptable profits;
- Sharing technologies between them.
2. Qualified and certified doctors
Colombia is full of surgeons and dentists who outnumber Canada, and I thought Colombia was a banana republic, but I was wrong.
When seeking professional medical help in Colombia or elsewhere, doubts may arise about who is treating you so as not to deal with fake doctors. However, the Colombian government websites are well done and make it easy to find essential information about a doctor.
Healthcare professionals are given a professional card, but this type of evidence can be fabricated and falsified, so checking a doctor’s certification on the SISTER website is fairer.
How do you know if a person is a doctor or dentist in Colombia?
You can consult the portal of the Integral Social Protection Information System named SYSPRO to verify whether the specialist is fully qualified and certified to practice his profession and the number of years of experience.
On this portal, you have to go to the middle of the page and click on RETHUS – Registro de Talento Humano en Salud to be directed to another page. From there, you click Consulta Ciudadano to enter information (and accents) on the desired professional.
3. A high quality of service for medical care
Canadian and American doctors have been known to run from patient to patient without having time for you, and even before and after your surgery or dental treatment, you are more likely to see a caregiver, nurse or hygienist, a medical assistant instead of your doctor or dentist.
Doctors in Colombia have much more accessible work schedules and prioritize devoting time to each patient, both for care and to provide superior service compared to North American doctors. Therefore, you are taken care of by the doctor or dentist, perhaps even by a medical attendant who helps you facilitate and organize all aspects of your medical treatment and stay.
Beyond the simple costs, many people appreciate the superior service found in hospitals, medical centers and dental offices in Colombia. Upon departure, you are treated with more courtesy, sometimes with reverence to the point of embarrassment, and invoicing is often done less hassle and bureaucracy.
I have often heard and seen doctors taking drugs to foreign patients at their hotel, accompanying them for an x-ray and even going to dinner together!
Colombia is known for their excellent standard of care; not only are the procedures themselves better, but the recovery periods are better as well. People can spend several days in the hospital if needed to recover instead of being sent home the next day.
In addition, you have better access to your doctor after the operation or treatments. The quality of care is more advanced in Colombia because, quite simply, doctors focus on people and not on money.
4. A world-class healthcare system
Rising healthcare costs in Canada and the United States are pushing people to seek medical treatment elsewhere. In contrast, medical institutions in developing countries have not only caught up with Western standards but have also exceeded them by far. Regards.
As a tourist, you are usually surprised to find brand new facilities and state-of-the-art equipment in hospitals, medical centers and dental offices to keep up with the fierce competition for this rapidly growing market.
Colombia is ranked very well in the world by World Health Organization. Indeed, it ranks 22nd globally, therefore in a better position than Canada and the United States.
The cleanliness or salubrity of a place of health and the sterilization of instruments or equipment are elements to be taken into account if we do not want to catch diseases or infections. I visited hospitals and dental centers in Colombia during my five years of residence, and from my point of view, the sanitary conditions are optimal. However, I have read dentists and associations in Canada who indicated the opposite without setting foot in Colombia.
5. The availability of doctors and the speed of treatment
Medical tourists have better access to different types of treatment than those who choose not to travel, and another factor is the availability of routine surgeries.
In health care programs administered by Canada or the United States, waitlists can extend to more than one year for essential surgeries and three years for non-essential surgeries. With a well-planned visit, most surgeries can be performed within days of landing and consulting at one of the medical tourism centers.
Is your insurance company or local medical facility going to make you wait months for major surgery?
Instead of waiting years for surgery, medical tourism can help you pay for health care right now because the truth is, no one wants to wait long to get the help they need.
Why Cartagena de Indias?
For those who do not go under the knife, there is even more incentive to travel to Colombia and especially to the city of Cartagena de Indias by the Caribbean Sea.
Considering the cost of dental care, cosmetic and bariatric surgeries, and other medical procedures, savings even for minor work can cover the cost of the trip.
Many regular medical tourists schedule their physical exams, medical care, and other minor services and associate them with a week-long tropical beach vacation. Overall, their holidays are always cheaper than having the services in Canada or the United States.
We invite you to discover some excellent reasons to choose Cartagena de Indias:
1. A beautiful place to visit
Cartagena is a magnificent city to visit with its spectacular Historic Center where you think you are 500 years back with its colonial architecture and its many flowered balconies.
Its rich history of pirates made it possible to build a completely different wall of the Historical Center to protect itself and several fortresses and an enormous castle in a strategic position.
The main beaches are in Bocagrande, Laguito and La Boquilla without forgetting the Rosary Islands 45 minutes by boat, where the most beautiful beaches are located with their turquoise waters.
2. An exceptional climate
The average temperature is 30 to 32 degrees Celcius as the maximum and 24 to 26 degrees Celcius as the minimum throughout the year. Humidity is a bit high but still acceptable.
There is no rain from the end of November until the beginning of May. A few showers can occur in the other months around 5:00 p.m. September and October are the rainiest months.
No hurricane passes through Cartagena, and the months of January and February have a little pleasant breeze to cool the temperature.
3. Accommodation for all budgets
Cartagena is Colombia’s most popular tourist city, and many foreign visitors come to enjoy its exceptional climate, as do the people of Colombia. From mid-December to mid-January, the city is packed with visitors and hotels are fully booked.
Thus, there are many hotels available to travellers for all budgets and a multitude of apartments for rent. The areas for adequate accommodation are Bocagrande, Laguito, Castillogrande, Centro, San Diego, Getsemani, Manga, Centro, San Diego, Marbella, El Cabrero, Crespo, Cielo Mar and a little further in Manzanillo del Mar.
4. Easy and quick trips
Everything is close to Cartagena de Indias. For example, Rafael Nuñez airport is 10 minutes from Centro and 15 minutes from Bocagrande.
For foreign tourists, hospitals, medical centers, and dental offices are all within 15 minutes of hotels to facilitate travel by private vehicle or taxi.
The beaches are also close to the accommodation, and the historic center is a visit to be made on foot, as the number of vehicles entering is limited. No motorbike can enter the Centro, and during the busy months, several lanes are closed.
5. A destination close to Canada and the USA
From Montreal or Toronto, direct flights take about 5 hours. From Florida, it takes around 2:45.
Several airlines serve Cartagena, such as Air Transat (from Montreal), Air Canada (from Toronto), American Airlines (from Miami), Avianca (from Miami), Spirit Airlines (from Fort-Lauderdale), Delta (from Atlanta), Copa (from Panama), Interjet (from Cancun), JetBlue (from New York), etc.
You can also make a stopover in Bogota, where many flights from several destinations are available.
Possible reasons for not travelling abroad
One of the main reasons people don’t consider medical tourism is security. An interesting fact is that medical error in the United States alone is responsible for over 250,000 deaths per year, and in Canada, for over 20,000 deaths.
The security of a proceeding in the United States and Canada is not necessarily superior to Colombia or even Mexico. Under the right conditions, surgeries and medical procedures are sometimes safer in these alternative locations. It is essential to weigh all the risks and benefits of any treatment or procedure, no matter where in the world you go.
With a few exceptions, medical tourism should be considered for any non-emergency intervention.
Here are the reasons most often mentioned for not travelling abroad for medical care:
1. The language and culture barrier
While good English can be expected from your doctor, dentist, and hospital staff, many medical tourists have little experience travelling abroad, especially to non-English speaking countries like Colombia.
While some people enjoy travelling and experiencing new cultures, patients about to undergo major surgery or significant dental treatments are rarely this type of traveller.
For those with little travel experience, staying at home can be a less stressful yet expensive alternative.
SOLUTION: Choose the service of an experienced organizer/guide who speaks French, English, and Spanish to take care of everything without going far away or interacting with the people of Colombia.
2. No legal recourse
Overly litigious patients are often blamed for medical problems in America, but this offers a firmly established avenue for legal remedy after incompetence or gross negligence.
Medical tourists have few options when faced with a significant problem in Colombia or elsewhere. Although the treatment of complications is also inexpensive, there will effectively be no possibility of obtaining financial compensation, either to pay for more treatment or emotional distress.
There is no way around this problem, although the type of incompetence that leads to lawsuits in Colombia is rare in large hospitals, medical centers or dental offices due to the less busy work and a surplus of doctors. It is therefore essential for you to educate yourself as well as possible to prevent problems.
SOLUTION: We offer you complete information to take a free and informed decision before coming to Colombia and thus understand and avoid possible risks or medical problems.
3. No billing for insurers
A common misconception is that while foreign medical procedures are much cheaper, they have to be paid out of pocket.
It is telling that even with this belief, the deductible for many insured patients is so high that they still travel abroad for treatment. The reality is that most insurers are not only willing to reimburse your medical expenses abroad, but they are also often happy to solve your problem without paying the medical rates in Canada or the United States.
The problem then becomes sending your records and receipts to your insurer.
If insurance reimbursement is a large part of your medical tourism costs, it is essential to know in advance if you can obtain this documentation. Also, if you come from countries with state-run medical systems like Canada and the United States, you can often get reimbursed for your treatments, although you should know the proper forms in advance.
SOLUTION: We draw up a complete invoice for medical care in French or English to transmit the information to your insurance companies on request.
4. False propaganda to manipulate you
The risk of receiving quality dental care in Colombia is disturbing for doctors in our rich countries and not for us, the patients.
In truth, the doctors, dentists, and associations in our rich countries are afraid of losing us as “high paying customers,” Therefore, they seek to scare us into believing that we need them. They are the best in the world and thus manipulate us by cunning, lies, and selfishness to avoid looking elsewhere for different and more affordable solutions.
How can they say that medical care in Colombia or elsewhere is of poor quality without setting foot in the country for a fair check?
But the most significant risk of going to Cartagena de Indias in Colombia does not want to leave Colombia after one, two or three weeks because the welcome, the kindness and the sense of humour of the Colombians are truly palpable paired with an extraordinary city to spend an unforgettable vacation by the Caribbean Sea and realize knowingly, savings of around 75% for quality medical care.