NPR did a special series on the globalization of health care, and I found this information that they included to be very helpful for those researching and considering medical travel:
How do I find out if a foreign hospital is accredited?
The Joint Commission, an American non-profit that accredits hospitals in the U.S., has a division that does the same thing for foreign hospitals and other health care facilities. Joint Commission International uses American medical standards to evaluate foreign facilities. Generally, medical tourism agencies will offer information on accreditation, however, make sure to conduct research independently as well, as these agencies aren’t necessarily subject to American laws.
Once I locate a hospital, how do I check out a particular doctor’s qualifications?
Generally patients work with medical tourism agencies, but you can also contact hospitals directly. Also consider asking your U.S. physician to check out the physician, they will be able to be on the lookout for either positive or negative flags that we may not recognize.
Will my insurance cover medical procedures performed abroad?
Generally speaking it will not. However, large strides have been made–specifically in the face of new changes under Health Care Reform–to cooperate with various insurance providers and cover care in other countries. Call your insurer’s customer service line to see if you’re covered for visits to hospitals abroad.
Do I have recourse if something goes?
Unfortunately, the medical tourism industry is still working to become less fragmented, so there isn’t necessarily one authority in most cases. If you paid a medical tourism agency to find a doctor, they may be liable. But be advised that the country you are traveling to may not abide by the same malpractice laws as found in the United States.
What rules should I follow if I’m considering a medical trip abroad?
Make sure you’ve done your research, read up on the doctor and the hospital you are considering and make SURE that you get referrals and feedback from former patients. Also make sure to let your U.S. doctor know what you are planning to make sure that your post-op care goes as smoothly as possible.