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Medical Tourism to Brazil

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Brazil has some of the leading hospitals in the world, particularly in the private sector, and its plastic surgeons have an excellent reputation. The cost of medical procedures in Brazil are much lower than in the United States, yet higher than in other medical tourism destination such as Thailand and India.

Private surgeons and top hospitals in Brazil are gradually entering the medical tourism market and trying to accommodate the needs of the English and Spanish speaking health travelers. The large Arab community in Brazil is also a factor in attracting a flow of medical travelers from the Middle East.

Brazil's healthcare system

Approximately 60% of Brazil's hospitals are privately owned, either profit or non-profit, while the remaining 40% percent are public hospitals. And 80% of urban inpatients as well as most medical tourism patients are catered for by privately-owned health facilities.

When coming to Brazil for a medical procedure, you are advised to seek care in one of the top private hospitals and clinics, rather than in the public healthcare system.

The country is has 25 hospitals which are accredited by the Joint Commission International and these health facilities are considered among the best in Latin America. Some hospitals are accredited by the Consortium of Brazilian Accreditation and the Brazilian Hospital Medical Quality Organization (ONA) as well as by other regulatory bodies such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the Canadian Council on Health Services (CCHSA) and the Commission on Laboratory Accreditation of the College of American Pathologists (CAP).

Physicians education and certification
After graduation from medical school, Brazilian physicians undergo medical residence for a pre-determined duration as required by the specialized practice they intend to take. After completion, the physicians are presented to a board of medical examiners from the Brazilian Federal Council of Medicine (Conselho Federal de Medicina), the professional regulatory and licensing body for medicine in Brazil, before they are given the title of specialist.
After the license is granted, the physician can then practice their specialization and be a member of the Brazilian Medical Association (Associao Médica Brasileira) and the Sociedade Brasileira de Clnica Médica.
Many of Brazil's cosmetic surgeons were trained in US Institutions and are either certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or are members of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons.

Top hospitals for medical tourism in Brazil

  • Albert Einstein Jewish Hospital - Sao Paolo
    Received its first JCI accreditation in December 1999 and became the first JCI-accredited health facility outside the USA. The hospital is known for its Disease or Condition-Specific Care (DCSC) program as well as its Stroke Program.
  • Sociedade Hospital Samaritano - Sao Paolo
    This is a privately-owned hospital in operation since 1894 and is a member of the Health Consortium Brazil. This health facility was established by a group of immigrants from the US, Great Britain and Germany and is now a part of a group of private hospitals geared towards exporting Brazilian healthcare to different parts of the world.
  • Hospital do Coracao - Sao Paolo
    Established in 1985, it is a philanthropic hospital which is now ranked as one of the main reference health centers in South America. With 37 medical specialties available in the facility, the hospital is also a pioneer in medical technologies in the country, particularly in the field of cardiology and cardiac medicine. Medical staff can communicate in Portuguese, Spanish, English and even Arabic, which is ideal for medical tourists from the Middle East region.

Common treatments done by medical tourists in Brazil

Cost of medical treatments in Brazil

The following are cost comparisons between Medical procedures in Brazil and equivalent procedures in the United States: [Source]
Medical Procedures
Procedure US Hospitals Brazil Average Savings
Bariatric / Gastric-Bypass Surgeries $8,500 - $13,000 $3,200 - $3,800 62% - 70%
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Procedure US Hospitals Brazil Average Savings
Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) $6,000 - $10,000 $4,200 - $4,800 30% - 52%
Face Lift (rhytidectomy) $10,500 -16,000 $5,500 - $6,500 47% - 59%
Breast Augmentation (Mammoplasty) $7,500 - $8,500 $3,500 - $4,000 50% - 53%
Breast Reduction $8,000 - $10,000 $4,000 - $4,500 50% - 55%
Complete Liposuction (lipoplasty) $13,000 - $14,000 $3,000 - $4,000 70% - 75%
Nose Surgery (Rhinoplasty) $5,500 - $6,500 $3,000 - $3,500 45% - 47%

Malpractice and liability laws in Brazil

Brazil's exposure to Western influences has increased the local sensitivity to issues related to medical malpractice and liability. This influence has attributed to the increase in malpractice lawsuits against physicians and hospitals in Brazil. In response, new types of insurance coverage that include medical liability were made available to protect private hospitals, medical groups and health professionals in Brazil.
When choosing a hospital or a surgeon in Brazil, medical tourists should make sure the health practitioners are covered against medical liability lawsuits.

Pros

  • Excellent cosmetic surgeons

    Cost-effective cosmetic and plastic surgeries with some of the best surgeons in the world.
  • JCI accreditations

    A relatively large number of JCI accredited hospitals.
  • Top notch private medical facilities

    Several private hospitals are considered among the best in the world, with advanced technologies and excellent physicians.
  • Vacation destination

    There are several choice vacation destinations in Brazil, perfect for fast and relaxing recovery and recuperation.

Cons

  • No English is spoken by the general public

    Brazil is a Portuguese-speaking nation and this is the only language of daily life. Therefore, communication with the locals could prove to be difficult for English and Spanish speaking people.
  • English in health institutions

    Despite several JCI-accredited health institutions in the country, some accredited hospitals still do not have the internal system and structure to accommodate health travelers from other countries. This is particularly the case in regard to communication, such as having specialized staff who can speak in foreign languages fluently.
  • Travel times

    Travel times from the US and Canada are long, especially when compared to Mexico or Costa Rica.
  • Personal safety

    Excessive crime and violence in certain parts of the main cities.
  • Traffic

    Chaotic traffic in major cities.

Traveling to Brazil

Brazil has four major airports that can accommodate the influx of medical tourists - Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and Brasilia.
Average estimated travel time in hours

From/To Brazil
New York 9
Los Angeles 11
Miami 7
Toronto 9
Uruguay 3
Paraguay 2
Bolivia 2
Venezuela 4
Dubai 16
Riyadh 16
Kuwait 15
London 11

Entry and exit requirements to Brazil

Citizens of the United States and Canada are required to have a valid passport and a visa prior to entry in Brazil.
Countries included in the following list do not require a visa to enter Brazil as long as the visit is for tourism purposes and should not exceed 90 days.
Other countries not in the list would be required to have a visa prior to entry into the country.

Statistics for medical tourism in Brazil

In 2005, there were approximately 49 thousand medical tourists that came to Brazil. These figures were determined by EMBRATUR - Brazilian Institute of Tourism.
With the formation of the Brazilian Consortium for Health these figures are expected to increase during the following years. This includes the 90% of former visitors who according to EMBRATUR plan on returning back to Brazil for medical treatment.

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