Posted: 16.04.2024 16:31:00

Healthcare tours

Foreigners are increasingly coming to Belarus for medical treatment due to the high level of medicine in our country

According to Belarus’ Ministry of Healthcare, 134,000 foreign citizens came to Belarus to benefit from medical services in 2023. They were treated by local oncologists, ophthalmologists, cardiologists, dentists, neurosurgeons, transplantologists, hematologists, and plastic surgeons.

Debts ensured by insurance company

It is noteworthy that Belarusians who permanently live in other countries of the world also come to our country to use healthcare services. They enjoy all the benefits of high-quality Belarusian medicine solely on the grounds that they are still Belarusians. This is done not only by those who just got a job or started a family in a different country, but also by those who rushed abroad after the failed coup attempt in 2020. In other words, those who were the most dissatisfied and who still tell all sorts of tall tales about their Homeland abroad. Then why do they keep coming here? After all, now they have a chance to treat themselves at their places of residence. However, they regularly return to Belarus to get their teeth fixed, undergo a surgery or just have a basic medical examination. Maybe this is because something is rotten in the ‘advanced democracies’ of the EU and the US, and not everything is as amazing there as some people try to depict. 
The very leg in question
In fact, if Belarusian fugitives had been able to analyse information, they would have thought about the consequences even earlier. Thus, one of their ringleaders once broke his leg in the USA and immediately began to squeal, filled with indignation, all over the Internet — how come, American hospitals demand money from him in order to repair his broken leg, and a fair amount of money. Even despite the availability of insurance. Truly speaking, medical bills there were really exorbitant.
Ambulance call — $5,000,
three days in the in-patient clinic — $13,600,
operating room rent — $32,000,
doctor’s services — $8,800, X-ray — $900 each.
The cost of the broken leg treatment reached $100,000, and the insurance company washed its hands of the matter, having paid only part of the amount and suggesting paying the rest himself.   
The cost of medical services remains to be a huge and tangible problem for Americans. There are a lot of different types of insurance in the US, yet sometimes Americans have no health insurance at all, while without an X-ray worth $900-2,000 it may be impossible to survive. All in all, being sick is still an unattainable luxury for many Americans.
Of course, there is the so-called ‘socialised medicine’ in America, but it envisages only the simplest and basic manipulations — still for money, but at least not such immense amounts. Moreover, it is not always possible to wait to get the necessary help as there are crowds of fellow-sufferers. In view of the fact that living standards in the United States are falling, health insurance is becoming a luxury many Americans cannot afford. Therefore, spending 24h in the waiting room of an American hospital and going home after a painkiller injection and with a recommendation to take paracetamol is a common situation. A sick person may return to hospital later, having a worse medical condition where they have to choose between the life or the purse. In case of choosing the first option, they have to pay off debts for life for the medical care provided in an emergency. 
It is significantly cheaper for Americans to pay for a flight halfway around the world and get the necessary medical treatment in Belarus. Indeed, Belarusian prices are very reasonable, even for foreigners, the specialists are highly-qualified, and the level of healthcare is the one that not many people in America can afford. It is unbelievable but true — a day in a superior room with individual care in the traumatology department costs a foreign national a little less than $15. 
Republican Clinical Medical Centre, Minsk Region     Aleksandr Kulevsky

An examination may not be necessary

Europe has long forgotten what normal medicine is. Everything looks quite decent from the outside, though, just like in the US — there are insurances, there is paid medicine as well as alleged free medicine. This is until you come across the ‘charms’ of local healthcare personally. 
In fact, you must pay for every cotton ball used for your needs while the insurance company, even if you have a residence permit, will not be particularly quick to pay all your medical expenses. Thus, in Poland, they kick a patient out of the hospital after abdominal surgery the next day, on the third day at best. No one really cares if a person has anyone at home to get them a glass of water or apply a bandage. In order to have stitches removed, a frail person has to crawl back to the hospital. The doctor will not come to the patient’s home, nor will it be possible to use the ambulance as a free taxi. Don’t you like paying tens of thousands of euros for such a service? Then welcome to the free hospital, where you will have to wait in a queue for the next 24h. They can just relieve your symptoms as part of the free service and there is no guarantee that they will do it efficiently.   
While everything is clear about free medicine, it strikes as unpleasant that even in a paid clinic a patient sometimes has to wait for their turn for several months or over a year. It is a rather common situation in Europe now when a clinic calls a person to show up for a once assigned medical procedure or check-up, but the person died long ago. 
The qualification of medical workers deserves special mention. At the end of March, a horrible story happened in a Prague hospital — they confused two patients there. The doctor who was performing the procedure not only did not pay attention to the patient’s last name, but also did not notice that the patient was deeply pregnant. Only after the procedure, having seen the results, the doctor wondered, ‘What did I do?’… 

Bilevskaya out-patient clinic, Vitebsk          Anton Stepanishchev

Such different approaches

In neighbouring Lithuania, young parents nearly lost their two-year-old son when they contacted a paediatrician. The child had been coughing and had a serious fever for several days, and the parents, having paid more than €100, expected that the boy would at least be professionally examined. Yet, instead of examination or treatment, they received... a recommendation to give the child warm water and paracetamol. To be totally honest, the doctor was not completely lazy and still listened to the sick child. 
An attempt to demand to take tests from the child, make an X-ray, or prescribe antibiotics met misunderstanding on the part of the doctor who recommended bringing the child back in case he got worse. That is, pay €100 again and perhaps the doctor will deign to write out the necessary prescription, or even send the child for a blood test for an additional fee. In the meantime, the desperate parents had nothing left to do but to go home to give their sick child warm drinks, as the doctor recommended. When the parents and the sick child found themselves in the waiting room of a local hospital on the same day, the child already had serious breathing problems.
In terms of approaches to medical treatment, prevention, emergency care, drug prescription and availability of medicine, Belarus is very different from what one might encounter abroad. In our country, a doctor’s visit to a patient’s home on demand is considered the norm, as well as free ambulance, and more. In Israel, for example, if a hospital has no available places or a person has an illness not in line with the clinic’s specialisation, a person will be refused medical help — no matter what poor health state a person might have. A sick person will have to independently try to find an appropriate clinic which will be able to render the required medical help.
In contrast, in our country, an intoxicated man who broke his leg near the maternity hospital was thoroughly examined in the emergency room of the same hospital, where they immobilised the broken limb, called transport and carefully took the patient to the traumatology department — for free. 
This is how Belarusian medicine works. That is why, despite all the sanctions against our country, people from all over the world come to Belarus for health. Foreigners vote for Belarusian healthcare with their dollars and euros, and this is the best confirmation that we have something to be proud of.

City Clinical Hospital of Emergency Medical Care, Minsk       Aleksandr Kulevsky

By Alena Krasovskaya