Last month, our Field-Tested Travel Tip provided advice for seeking medical care overseas if you are sick or injured while on vacation. Because you’ll be dealing with a completely different medical system, there are hurdles to overcome, but as we’ve also found, some items are easier to deal with than in the United States.
When we were in Romania for dental work, which we wrote about for The Inquirer in October 2017, Larissa wanted to get her sore hip checked. This was by no means an emergency, but the hip had been aggravating her for a while. After our London experience — we initially tried the national health care system, but because we were not registered with it, we needed to go to a private clinic to receive more extensive care — we began in the private system.
Our Airbnb landlord helped locate a doctor for us. When Larissa called the doctor’s office at the local medical center, she was given the phone option to speak to someone in English, which made navigating the system much easier. Larissa made an appointment for the next day with a highly regarded orthopedic surgeon who spoke fluent English and who had trained in Germany and Switzerland.
Upon arriving at the medical center, we paid upfront for the appointment, which also included a follow-up visit. The total cost for both visits was $33. Yes, that’s not a typo. All of the people we met with spoke fluent English, and the facilities were completely modern, comparable to ones we use in the United States.
Remember, this was the private system and an upgrade from the government-run system, but compared to what we are used to, this was an incredible bargain.
The doctor scheduled an MRI for Larissa, which cost $135, compared with around $1,200 in the United States the last time we had one. Larissa met with the doctor for a post-MRI follow-up visit at which he reviewed her results and recommended a program of physical therapy. The total cost for the two doctor visits and the MRI was $168.
Another difference was that the pricing was clearly delineated upfront. There was no guessing what the final tab would be or playing pricing pinball, where the price keeps going up with hidden add-ons.
We had journeyed to Romania specifically for the dental work, so the medical care for Larissa’s hip was an added bonus. Though you might not be traveling overseas for these reasons, if you face some major medical expenses in your future, it could be worth researching options in the country you are visiting.
Our cost saving was significant, and we found the Romanian system far easier to navigate than anticipated. Just keep in mind that wherever you go, be sure to look into the private health-care system.