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Medical Tourism to Colombia

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Overview

With a rank of 22 in WHO’s report of the world’s top 100 health systems, in contrast to US (37) and Canada (30), Colombia offers high quality healthcare and complex medical services at a considerably low cost. In the recent years, it has been rising as one of the top choices for medical tourism, with international patients arriving from the US, Europe and the neighbouring Latin American countries to avail its services

Colombia’s Healthcare System

The Healthcare system in Colombia is well developed, with key super speciality hospitals offering high quality medical care at affordable prices. 5 of Colombia’s hospitals have received the prestigious JCI accreditation, which is the highest possible accreditation for a hospital anywhere in the world. A study by the journal America Economia in 2017 revealed Colombia to have 8 of Latin America’s Top 42 Hospitals. While Colombia has a well established public healthcare system, the top hospitals for medical tourism are privately owned, since the public hospitals already face a lot of demand.

Top hospitals for medical tourism in Colombia

  • Centro Medico Imbanaco: Another JCI accredited (as of April 2017) super speciality hospital located in Cali, Colombia, Centro Medico Imbanaco offers a wide range of services, from cosmetic surgery, cardiology, cancer treatment, urology and much more. It has been a go-to choice for international patients, and has a successful track record of offering top quality care at a considerably less cost to medical tourists.
  • Fundacion Cardiovascular de Colombia (Hospital Internacional de Colombia) - Ranking at no. 3 nationally, and 8 in Latin America, according to América Economía of 2017, Fundacion Cardiovascular de Colombia or The Cardiovascular Foundation of Colombia is one of the Top Cardiovascular Speciality Hospitals in Colombia. The first hospital in Colombia to receive a JCI accreditation in August 2009, the hospital is a part of the International Hospital of Colombia organization, and offers highly complex services such as non invasive cardiovascular surgery, kidney/liver/pancreas transplants, modern facilities, state-of-the-art equipment and a highly qualified medical team.
  • Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá Hospital universitario: Founded in 1972, The Santa Fe de Bogota Hospital offers high quality super speciality medical services in the fields of Cardiology, Dermatology, Surgery, Critical Care, Neurology and more. Accredited by JCI in a range of medical programs in 2010 and 2017, the hospital has a dedicated service office to communicate exclusively with international patients, and have over 100 international agreements in place to facilitate a smooth medical care experience for international patients.
  • Hospital Pablo Tobon Uribe: Having received its JCI accreditation in 2015, Pablo Tobón Uribe also has a special department that handles foreign patients including handling insurance and language and communications with medical practitioners in a patient’s home country. The hospital has several doctors fluent in English as well as trained medical interpreters. Besides being a general hospital, this hospital also specializes in renal and cancer care, bariatric surgery, and pediatrics. The hospital is also a university hospital. Students receive training in medicine, nursing, nutrition, psychology and microbiology.
  • Hospital Universitario de San Vicente Fundación: Founded in 1913, The Universitario de San Vicente Fundación is a private, non profit hospital and focuses on providing complex medical services in the field of cardiology, orthopedics, transplants and more for patients at a very affordable cost. It currently has 662 beds and 15 operating rooms at this location. The hospital is one of the largest hospitals in Colombia and Latin America. It treats over 25,000 patients per year and has over 200,000 medical appointments per year. Furthermore, it handles over 16,000 surgeries per year.

Common treatments done by medical tourists in Colombia

The most common medical treatments done by medical tourists that visit Colombia are as follows:
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Cardiovascular Procedures
  • Orthopedic Procedures
  • Gynaecology
  • Addiction treatments
  • Neurology
  • Endocrinology
  • Otolaryngology (ENT)
  • Dental Procedures
  • Laser Eye treatments
  • Organ Transplants
  • Fertility treatments

Cost of medical treatments in Colombia

Price Comparison with The US:
Orthopedic
Medical Procedure US Hospitals Colombia Hospitals Average Savings
Knee Replacement $25000 $800-10000 60-68%
Hip Replacement $28,000 $8000-$9000 70%-71%
Hip Resurfacing $24,500 $10000-$11000 55%-58%
Cardiovascular
Medical Procedure US Hospitals Colombia Hospitals Average Savings
Angioplasty $22,500 $7000-$8000 64%-68%
Valve Replacement $46,000 $10000-$11000 75%-78%
Cosmetic Surgery
Medical Procedure US Hospitals Colombia Hospitals Average Savings
FaceLift (rhytidectomy) $7000-$9000 $4000-$5000 40%-45%
Breast Augmentation $5000-$8000 $2000-$3000 60%-62%

(Source 1, Source 2)


Price Comparison with The UK:

Orthopedic
Medical Procedure US Hospitals Colombia Hospitals Average Savings
Knee Replacement $16000-$17000 $800-10000 50-58%
Hip Replacement $13500-$14500 $8000-$9000 37%-40%
Cardiovascular
Medical Procedure US Hospitals Colombia Hospitals Average Savings
Angioplasty $13000-$15000 $7000-$8000 45%-46%
Valve Replacement $35000-$36000 $10000-$11000 70%-71%
Cosmetic Surgery
Medical Procedure US Hospitals Colombia Hospitals Average Savings
FaceLift (rhytidectomy) $11000-$12000 $4000-$5000 58%-63%
Breast Augmentation $7000-$8000 $2000-$3000 57%-70%

Malpractice and liability laws in Colombia

Cases of Medical Malpractice are attended to by the Administrative courts, and disputes are heard against individual doctors or hospitals that have committed malpractice. Given the surge in medical tourism, the laws regarding medical malpractice are being updated, however, this field is still an evolving one and it may be a long and tedious process to get compensation in case of malpractice.

(Source)

Pros

  • Low costs
  • Availability of Complex Medical Treatments
  • Quality super speciality care at Top hospitals Comparatively short flight time from US and Canada
  • Good tourism infrastructure

Cons

  • Language barrier
  • Long travel time from Australia, Dubai
  • Inadequate malpractice liability laws

Traveling to Colombia

Average estimated flight travel time in hours
From/To No. of hours (Flight time)
New York City 6
Los Angeles 7.5
Toronto 5.5
Vancouver 11
London 11
Melbourne 25+
Dubai 20+

Entry and exit requirements to Colombia

If you are a citizen of the US, UK, EU or Australia, you can enter Colombia without a visa and stay in the country for upto 90 days. Canadian citizens who hold normal passports must pay a reciprocity fee of 190,000 Colombian pesos upon arrival except for tourists who are under 14 orover 79.

Statistics for medical tourism in Colombia

Medical tourism has been rising in importance in Colombia in recent years. It has been estimated that foreigners visiting the country for medical reasons spent a total of $216m in 2014, up 61% on $134m the year before. One of the incentives for inward health tourism is the relatively low cost of medical procedures, which are nevertheless carried out to high professional standards.

The number of health tourists to Colombia grew by 6.4 % in 2015, with the arrival of 10,423 compared to 9,792 in 2014 claims government tourism and foreign investment agency ProColombia.

The main countries of origin are claimed to be Netherlands (4,492); USA (1,159); Venezuela (860); Ecuador (628); and Panama (625).


(Source 1, Source 2)

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