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Medical tourism refers to travelling to another country for medical or dental treatment. Many people who undertake medical tourism do so because treatment is much cheaper in another country. The most common procedures that people undergo on medical tourism trips include cosmetic surgery, dentistry, and heart surgery. In recent years, orthopedic, IVF and stem-cell therapy are all being offered by overseas providers. Some of these services are not approved in Australia.

If you plan to travel overseas for medical or dental treatment, including a cosmetic procedure, keep in mind that the quality of care you receive may not be of the same standard you would expect in Australia. Health standards in some countries, including training of doctors and nurses, infection rates and rates of complications are not as good as in Australia. The emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria in many overseas hospitals is of concern, as infections may not be treatable. Australians intending to have operations or procedures overseas should be aware that while the planned procedure may be straightforward, complications can arise. The cost of repair or further treatment may be high, or you may return home with a new or worse problem.

Remember that you are financially responsible for costs incurred during and after treatment. These costs will not covered by Medicare. Standard travel insurance is unlikely to meet the costs of planned medical treatment abroad. Be honest with your insurance company about your plans and declare any pre-existing medical conditions.

If you are travelling for the purpose of receiving medical treatment you still need to undertake the standard health preparations for an overseas visit, including vaccinations.