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Cancer Treatment & Medical Tourism

Getting a cancer diagnosis immediately turns your life upside down. Suddenly all of the petty concerns and details that had previously occupied you are recognized as insignificant, as you’re forced to focus on the here and now and next steps. Cancer patients are thrust into a world of endless doctors’ appointments, testing and paperwork. Though you’d think that most of your time would be spent working directly with clinicians, an equal amount of time may be devoted to gathering insurance information and discussing copays and costs, and the numbers that you hear associated with your cancer treatment options can be staggering.

Patients diagnosed with cancer quickly come to the realization that getting better may end up costing them everything that they have, and some question the wisdom of bankrupting themselves and their families, or of sacrificing savings that were meant for college tuitions or retirement. Many are turning to medical tourism as a viable answer and as a way to avoid financial stress.

Medical tourism has traditionally found people from outside of the United States traveling into this country in search of the technologically advanced treatments that are available here. But as medical innovation and techniques have grown global and healthcare costs in the United States have skyrocketed, more and more Americans are seeking cancer treatment in Mexico and other countries. According to a McKinsey and Company report, in 2008 fewer than 100,000 people traveled to the United States seeking inpatient medical care while three quarters of a million Americans had traveled to other countries for the same purpose in the year prior.

Considering Cancer Treatment Outside of the United States?

If you are considering obtaining medical treatment outside of the United States due to cost considerations, there are a number of organizations that have been established for the sole purpose of facilitating your travel and treatment. These health tourism providers are able to provide you with the information you need as to what countries may offer the most advanced treatment for your specific type of cancer, and have relationships established with provider hospitals and other organizations to ensure that your travels are trouble free. Many assign nurse case managers who oversee each client’s arrangements with an eye to their specific medical needs and concerns so that all issues can be addressed. They frequently will also make arrangements for follow-up care once your treatment is complete and you have returned back to the United States.

Exploring Alternative Cancer Treatments

In addition to the fact that exploring cancer treatment options abroad can provide you with reduced costs, there is also the advantage of being able to receive some treatments that are not offered in the United States. Mexico has long been known for offering non-traditional holistic treatments that have offered hope to those suffering from late-stage cancers. Alternative cancer treatment in Mexico offers the chance to heal naturally using holistic treatments, as well as some medical treatments that have not yet received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Exploring these options must involve careful consideration, as there are both risks and costs involved. The risks include the possibility of travel-related complications for patients who are already medically fragile, and not all foreign countries adhere to the same standards of care that are prescribed in the United States. Additionally, the cost of travel as well as of the treatments themselves will likely require payment in cash, and even though the costs may be lower than in the United States, few people have those reserves on hand.

How to Pay for Cancer Treatments Abroad

If you have decided that medical tourism is your best cancer treatment option, then you may want to consider a life insurance loan as a source of funding. Life insurance loans allow you to access the death benefit of your life insurance policy. This not only allows you to stop making payments, as they are assumed by the company providing the loan, but also provides you with immediate cash that is unrestricted in its use. The balance of the policy will still go to your beneficiaries after the time of your death, while the equity that you take out will provide you with the resources you need to seek the medical treatment that you choose.

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