Laser Eye Surgery Abroad
Why Choose Laser Eye Surgery Abroad?
It is a well known fact that medical treatment carried out abroad is often a lot cheaper than the same procedure being carried out in the UK and laser eye surgery is no exception. The average cost of laser eye surgery in the UK is around £1000 per eye, this includes the procedure as well as the hospital and doctor's fees. For the same procedure and services in Hungary you can expect to pay around £458 giving you a massive saving of 54%. The same surgery carried out in India will give you a 33% saving on UK prices with a total cost of £668 and undergoing the treatment in Venezuela will cost you around £679 giving you a 32% saving on UK treatment costs.
Weighing up the potential savings of having laser eye treatment abroad is a case of a potentially big headline price discount against a range of "hidden" extra costs and risks. You will need to feel confident you are getting the same quality of treatment as you would want in the UK, so be prepared to spend time asking questions, examining qualifications, and looking for real customer feedback.
Where To Look?Within the EU, the Czech Republic and Hungary have the best reputation for lower prices, with many surgeries advertising treatment at around half the comparable price in the UK. Spain may also be worth looking at if you want somewhere closer to home that still offers discounts: two separate studies, by the World Health Organization and Bloomberg, ranked it as having among the very best healthcare systems in the world.
India and other parts of Asia may be worth exploring as many surgeons there trained in the UK, meaning they will often have a high level of expertise that you can verify, and speak very good English. If you don't speak a foreign language, check support staff such as nurses able to speak English.
Checking StandardsWhile you should always check that a provider is regulated and recognised by the relevant government authority in its country, three organizations can provide further details to check the level of care and expertise beyond simply meeting minimum standards.
- The International Society for Quality in Healthcare runs an international accreditation programme that independently checks that a country's regulation scheme is up to scratch and not subject to loopholes or failings. It covers around 70 countries at the moment.
- The Joint Commission International runs a global accreditation scheme for individual healthcare organizations such as hospitals, applying an international quality standard.
- QHA Trent is a British firm that accredits healthcare providers across Europe. As well as basic accreditation of an entire provider, it offers a specific Accreditation Plus scheme for opthalmic services.
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The big hidden cost is aftercare. Even if this is included in your surgery price, you must take into account the expenses of travel and accommodation if and when you need a follow-up appointment. If you choose to have this in the UK instead, you will be looking at additional surgeon costs. However, look out for foreign surgeries that have deals with British surgeries to cover the costs of aftercare without the need to travel abroad again; these arrangements could be anything from formal arrangements between chains to personal partnerships between individual surgeons.
Make sure to check travel insurance policies carefully before getting laser eye treatment abroad. Many policies do not cover medical and associated costs that result from something going wrong when you travel abroad to have surgery.
The governing principle for all insurance is that it covers the risk of unforeseeable events. When it comes to health and medicine, travel insurers almost always interpret this as including problems resulting from a foreseeable event: that is, something that is guaranteed to happen, in this case, you having the surgery.
The Financial Ombudsman noted in issue 29 of its newsletter that as long as insurers are acting reasonably, they can restrict what events they cover to a specific list; that makes it highly unlikely you'll be able to successfully claim on a policy even if it doesn't specifically exclude you travelling abroad for the surgery.
Several specialist insurers do offer policies specifically designed for people travelling abroad for surgery; these may have clear names such as "insurance for surgery abroad" or use industry jargon such as "enhanced medical" policies. The insurer will usually need to see your treatment plans to approve the policy, though as a general principle such insurers will cover treatment at any provider regulated by the relevant country's government.
One of the main reasons people go overseas is the costs: with treatment on both eyes often costing a total of anywhere from £1,000 to £5,000 in the UK, it can be a financial burden to pay fees up front.
As an alternative to you going abroad, some surgeries offer financing agreements by which you pay a portion up front (anywhere up to a third) and the rest in instalments after treatment. Before taking a finance deal, check through several points in the small print.
- Check the interest costs carefully: while it varies hugely from surgery to surgery, major national chains commonly offer interest-free credit if you will repay within a year, or somewhere in the range of 8 to 12 percent interest if you will repay within two to four years.
- As with all borrowing, make sure you know exactly what your repayments will be and the total cost of the repayment, along with whatever terms and conditions kick in if you want to settle the balance early or miss a payment.
- Remember that the surgery's financing offer will not necessarily be the best credit deal available: if you do want financing, explore the costs of personal loans from a bank or other provider.
Book a consultation through Clinic Compare today and we'll put you in touch with a local surgery which can discuss financing options as well as your potential treatment.
Beyond the costs of the surgery, you will need to weigh up the costs of accommodation and travel to the country. Some UK agencies offer all-in packages, though remember these may be more expensive than arranging flights and hotels yourself. The NHS recommends waiting between one and seven days after laser eye surgery before flying home, depending on the complexity of the treatment.