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How to Plan Ahead for Medical Travel

Terminal C, Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), Bangkok, Thailand. Image by

The quality of medical travel can be improved with preparation and planning. This page provides tips and tools for making health travel efficient and manageable.

Para consejos en español.

   Planning Stage
   Covering Costs
   Hospital Registration

   International Insurance
   List of Insurers
   International Hospital Hubs
   Emerging International Hospital Hubs


Planning Stage

1. Ask your doctor if you are fit to travel overseas with your medical condition.

2. Once you decide to continue your treatment abroad, keep your local doctor informed so that you can continue your follow up treatment without a hitch.

3. Research the hospital or dentist you plan to visit. When selecting the international hospital that’s best for your needs, you should consider the hospital’s accreditation, awards and recognitions, facility and equipment, and the range and quality of the hospitals’ services. Ideally, visit the hospital first to get a feel for it’s capabilities. Undergo a Health Screening Program to get an overall health check and experience the services of the hospital in a low risk environment.

4. Check the credentials and experience of the doctor who will treat you. Make sure to get second opinions. Many international hospital hubs have several great hospitals to choose from. Don’t be afraid to check with a second hospital at the destination before choosing a treatment.

5. Find out about the procedure and compare your expectations with what’s achievable by the surgery. Also enquire about follow-up care needed, time required for recovery, physical therapy, etc.

6. Please note that in most cases the final decisions on your treatment will be made only after the doctor meets you and examines you in person. It is possible that your doctor, upon examining you, may decide you are not fit for surgery, or recommends treatment different from what you planned.


1. Certain documents must always be with you. Ensure that you carry multiple copies and keep the originals in a safe place when abroad.

a. Records like X-Rays, MRI’s, health histories, photographs, immunization records, prescriptions, and any other health records relevant to the surgery. Remember to carry all these medical reports and any medicines in your carry-on luggage.

b. Passport and visa: You will need a passport for yourself and your travel companion (if any). Depending upon the country you are traveling from, you may or may not need a visa. Some countries now offer a medical visa. Make sure to check what is available from their consulate or embassy.

c. Credit cards, debit cards and travelers checks: Bring some local currency, travelers checks and one or two major credit cards and debit cards. Some hospitals will not accept checks. Make sure to inform your credit card company that you’ll be traveling to the country where you plan to receive care.

d. Carry your driver’s license or any valid proof of identity and make sure it will remain valid while you’re traveling.


Be sure to check the visa requirements for medical travelers of the country to which you plan to visit. It may vary, country by country, and also determine the number of days you can spend in country and if you can make a return trip.

India – India’s medical eVisa allows medical tourists to stay for one year with three entries permitted.

Thailand – Thailand’s medical travel “MT” visa allows medical tourists to stay for 60 days which is 30 days longer than the general tourist entry permit. For travelers over the age of 50, Thailand now allows a stay of ten years in two increments of five years which is helpful for long term medical living in the country. No expat work is permitted on this visa. Learn more from the Thai Embassy:

Thailand Update – Thailand is now planning to extend its “MT” Visa to visitors from the U.S. and Japan and allow a 90 day stay for medical treatment.

Malaysia – An eVISA (Medical) for healthcare travelers from China, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Serbia and Montenegro and is only valid for a single journey to Malaysia for purposes of medical trips for the maximum of 30 days. Upon consultation with the hospital in Malaysia, patients that are required stay exceeding 30 days have to obtain a long term Medical Pass for their medical treatment. Learn more from the Immigration Department of Malaysia:

Covering Costs

While the costs for treatment at a international hospital may be considerably less than that of your local hospital and within management by credit card or cash payment, there are some companies which offer international medical insurance which may cover most of the costs. Please see our ‘Tools’ section for more details on options.

Hospital Registration

You are required to produce your passport at the registration counter to get registered at the hospital. The hospital will maintain a copy of your passport (photo page and visa page) in your hospital record. You can schedule appointments on hospitals websites and many now schedule appointments with the WhatsApp app.


International Insurance

There are a variety of situations when one is overseas when one requires medical assistance. It is important to understand your situation beforehand and research and choose the insurance plan that matches your international health strategy.

Three types of insurance conditions are common and may have different insurance options.

1. Intentional Medical Travel – when you plan to go overseas for medical attention and treatment

2. Accidental Medical Travel – when you are already overseas and have an accident which require medical attention or treatments

3. Complication Insurance – when you have a treatment at an international hospital and must have further medical attention due to complications from the treatment

In addition there are several types of living situations to which different insurance plans may apply. These include:

1. International medical travel from your home country

2. International medical care as an expat in the country your are currently living

3. International medical care as an expat in a different country from the one in which you are currently living

4. Package Procedures – insurance related to a special package offered by the hospital

The most important to research is Intentional Medical Travel when you seek medical attention outside of your home country. Not every insurer will cover this situation. Below is a list of ones which may. From this list, Companion Global Healthcare is the most widely known. ClinicTrip is not affiliated with any insurer or hospital.

List of Insurers

ADAC Schutzbrief
Aetna Global Benefits (World Assist)
Allianz WorldWide Care
AON Consulting
ASFE (Mobility Benefits – World Assist)
ATMSafe (World Assist)
AXA Colonia
BlueCross BlueShield
Brasil Assistência
Bupa International
CEGA Group (World Assist)
CIGNA International (World Assist)
Companion Global Healthcare

DKV Globality S.A – Alemanha (World Assist)
Elvia Assistance GMBB (World Assist)
Euro-Center LTDA
Europ Assistance
European Benefits (World Assist)
Expacare (World Assist)
GBG Administrative (World Assist)
Global Benefits – Insurance Without Borders (World Assist)
Global Medical Management, Inc (GMMI)
GoodHealth Worldwide (World Assist)
Hitachi Health Care Program
HTH Worldwide
IHI Danmark
InterMutuelles Assistance
International SOS Assistance
Mobility Benefits (World Assist)
Mobility Saint Honoré (World Assist)
Mondial Assistance
Mondial Brasil 
Nordic (World Assist)
Olympus Managed 
Health Care (World Assist)
Previnter (World Assist)
PPP Healthcare 
Quality Health Management
Seven Corners 
Redbrigde (World Assist)
SOS International
Specialty Assistance
TIE CARE (World Assist)

International Hospital Hubs


Region: Southeast Asia
Key Cities: Bangkok, Chiangmai, Phuket City
Hospitals: Bumrungrad International Hospital, Samitivej Sukhujvit Hospital, Yanhee International Hospital (Cosmetic Surgery), Bangkok Hospital, BNH Hospital, Chiangmai Ram Hospital
Features: World class facilities, short to no wait times, highly developed tourist infrastructure, expertise in health screenings, dentistry, plastic surgery, skin care
Thailand Medical Tourism Portal:

Thailand Best Hospitals

Bangkok, Thailand. Image by


Region: Southeast Asia
Key Cities: Kuala Lumpur, Penang (George Town), Petaling Jaya, Melaka
Hospitals: Prince Court Medical Center, Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Sunway Medical Center, KPJ Hospitals, Pantai Hospitals, Island Hospital, Penang Adventist Hospital, Mahkota Medical Center
Features: English speaking, world class facilities, large expat community, government focus, internationally trained doctors, preventative health focus, lower costs, developed tourist infrastructure, expertise in health screenings, fertility treatment, heart care
Malaysia Medical Tourism Portal:

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Image by


Region: South Asia
Key Cities: Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Kochi
Hospitals: Apollo Group Hospitals, Fortis Hospitals, Medanta Medicity, Seven Hills Hospital, Asian Heart Institute, Narayana Health
Features: High quality doctors, very low costs, world class facilities, new medical eVisa

Kerala, India. Image by


Region: Southeast Asia
Key Cities: Singapore
Hospitals: Singapore General Hospital, Changi General Hospital, Raffles Hospital, Mt. Elizabeth Orchard Hospital, Mt. Elizabeth Novena Hospital, Gleneagles-Singapore
Features: High quality doctors, world class facilities, efficiency and professionalism, English speaking, highly developed tourist infrastructure, expertise in complex surgeries
Singpore Ministry of Health:

Singapore Private Hospitals

Singapore. Image by

Costa Rica

Region: Central America
Key Cities: San José, Alajuela, Liberia, San Francisco
Hospitals: Hospital Hotel La Catolica, Hospital CIMA San José, Hospital Clinica Biblica
Features: Low costs, high quality doctors, serves a large expat community, proximity to North America, developed tourist infrastructure, expertise in dentistry

Costa Rica Dentists

San Jose, Costa Rica. Image by


Region: Middle East
Key Cities: Ankara, Istanbul, Gebze, Izmir
Hospitals: Ankara Guven Hospital, Hisar Intercontinental Hospital, Anadolu Medical Center, Acibadem Bakirkoy Hospital – Istanbul
Features: Low cost region, nearness to Europe, high quality doctors and services, world class facilities, expertise in cosmetic surgery, dentistry, hair restoration. Establishing follow up recovery centers in countries with high volumes of medical tourists

Turkey hospitals and dental clinics

Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Region: Middle East
Key Cities: Dubai, Abu Dhabi
Hospitals: American Hospital Dubai, Burjeel Hospital, Emirates Hospital, Zulekha Hospital, German Heart Centre Bremen
Features: Regional hub, English speaking, high quality facilities, world class doctors, developed tourist infrastructure, large expat communities, large number of accredited hospitals

UAE hospitals private

Image by Ahmad Ardity from Pixabay

Emerging International Hospital Hubs

Eastern Europe

Region: Eastern Europe – Hungary, Poland, Croatia, Greece, Estonia
Key Cities: Budapest, Warsaw, Zagreb, Athens, Tallinn
Hospitals: Kreativ Dental Clinic (Hungary), Carolina Medical Center (Warsaw), Athens Medical Center (Athens), Dental Center Repic (Trogir)
Features: Lower cost European region, proximity to Western Europe and Scandinavia, short wait times
Strengths: Dentistry, Orthopedics, Dermatology, Cosmetic Surgery, Fertility Treatment

Eastern Europe Dentists

Budapest. Image by


Region: South America
Key Cities: Bogota, Medellin, Bucaramanga
Hospitals: Pablo Tobón Uribe Hospital, Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá, Fundación Cardiovascular de Colombia, Clinica FOSCAL, inSer Fertility Clinics
Features: Top ranked hospitals in South America, low cost region, improved tourist infrastructure and safety especially in Medellin, proximity to North America

Medellin, Colombia by


Region: Southeast Asia

Key Cities: Manila, Makati, Cebu City, Quezon City
Hospitals: The Medical City, St. Luke’s Medical Center – Quezon City, St. Luke’s Medical Center – Global City, Makati Medical Center
Features: Low cost region, improving tourist infrastructure and safety, high quality hospitals with international accreditations