Feb 22

Indian Nurses at workIt’s been a while since I wrote about Medical Tourism. Meanwhile I had a bit more experience with medical services in India and I’m impressed with what is available.

If you are an Expat, living in Asia without health insurance or a holiday maker from Europe, Australia or the US – it could be interesting for you to check out the medical system offered in India.

You can find solutions of world-class healthcare with very affordable price tags.

Let me give you 5 reasons, why you should especially think of Goa, when considering your next surgery or health procedure:

5. Variety and abundance of available medical skills

Goa is very well prepared to service foreigners when it comes to health care. Most Goan doctors speak perfect English, a majority of them is also schooled or trained abroad. Besides dealing day-2-day with local patients; they have great experience in catering to bollywood actors or foreigners with their special needs.

While India in general has an universal healthcare system – meaning that most drugs or procedures are free for the local population – there is also a healthy (no pun intended) competition between governmental and privately run hospitals and healthcare institutions for servicing the more wealthy locals with lifestyle procedures (like cosmetic surgery) or visiting foreign tourists (who want to save a dime or two compared to their home countries).

If you look around in the tourist belt and the bigger cities next to it – you can find plenty of private healthcare providers. Especially the north-western coastal region (Candolim, Calangute and Baga) are simply plastered with dental clinics with very affordable prices. In this mentioned area alone I can easily count 30-40 dentists, while larger hospitals mainly only have outlets here, with their main operations to be found in the larger cities like Mapusa, Panaji or even Margao in the south.

Major hospitals to consider are for instance the Vrundavan Hospital in Mapusa, Manipal Hospital in Dona Paula, Vintage Hospital in Panaji, Apollo Victor Hospital (very new and a bit more expensive) and NUSI Hospital in/near Margao.

Some of the medical services offered here are: General Medicine and Cardiology, Orthopedic Surgery, Pediatrics, Trauma and Critical care, Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, Endoscopic and Laproscopic Surgery, Gastroenterology and Oncosurgery, Neuro surgery, Cosmetic Surgery, ENT, Urology, Nephrology, Dermatology, Ophthalmology, Dental, Medical Genetics and Counseling, Respiratory Medicine, Physiotherapy, Dietetics, Alternative and Ayurvedic Medicine.

I wrote already about vaccinations, which can be had in almost every hospital as well.

4. Quality of Surgery, Staff and Operation Theaters

This one is a bit hard to describe and has to be seen to believed. Hospitals here in Goa for sure don’t look very special from the outside. But like with other things, go inside and you are in a complete different world.

The hygiene in every hospital I visited so far while shopping around for the best prices is generally good. Sometimes you really have to wonder, how they can maintain a hospital so clean in an area that looks like a rubbish dump from the outside.

Welcome to India! Here especially, looks can be deceiving.

Operational devices, x-ray machines, dental equipment and other instruments are of high standard, although I wouldn’t go as far as calling them on par with Singapore or Europe (except the dentists maybe).

But you can expect modern facilities and up2date staff and nurses in spotless uniforms. So for general healthcare services and minor surgeries I wouldn’t be afraid to go under the knife here, as most established procedures didn’t change much over the last couple of years.

On this India forum – there are plenty of members who had various procedures successfully done here in Goa, including complicated knee, heart or cosmetic surgeries.

3. Short Queues or waiting Times

Generally, most dentists and hospitals in Goa have very short waiting times, completely different to healthcare providers in Europe or other developed countries, where you sometimes have to make appointments weeks in advance. As a foreigner you can enjoy a very individual and prompt reception. Dentists usually will arrange appointments only 2-3 days away, convenient enough to get a procedure done during a 2-week holiday.

The same applies for consultations without appointments with specialists. As a paying customer you usually don’t have to wait long in crowded waiting areas. The few times we had to visit a doctor it was all between 10-15 minutes of waiting times. You also don’t have the feeling that the doctors are very pushy and want to have you out within 5 minutes of their time.

A checkup is done very thorough and in an individual manner.

The stuff is generally friendly and genuinely interested in your well-being.

2. Low Costs of Generic and Branded Medicine

Most medicines can be bought here without prescriptions either right in your local pharmacy or ordered by them if not in stock. Goa is dotted with thousands of pharmacies at every corner. Again the tourist areas from Candolim to Baga have the highest density of pharmacies, while I found Mapusa further to the north-east the best stocked.

The best thing: prices for medicines are fixed! So you don’t have to haggle like with everything else in India. Prices are printed on the boxes of medicines and that’s exactly what you pay. Not more, not less.

Be prepared to get great bargains on most branded medicine and pay next to nothing for generics. Whenever I visited a pharmacy here, they are packed with Brits and other Europeans, buying huge numbers of boxes with all kinds of pain killers, anti-depressives, muscle relaxants, viagra-equivalents or whatever they get (or not) prescribed in their home countries, but have to shell out for themselves.

Another specialty: some branded items are sold here already as generics already, even though in most other countries you still can only buy the branded (more expensive) product. One example, a modern tacrolimus-based skin ointment is anywhere else in Asia only available as the branded version (Protopic) and will cost you anything from 300.000 Rupiah in Indonesia, around 1.200 Baht in Phuket, 2.150 Peso in the Philippines to 80-100 SGD in Singapore. No generics available. Buy the real thing or forget it.

Not here in India: a generic version (Tacroz Forte) costs a mere Rs 320 for 10g. That is only 20% of the price in Indonesia or Thailand, 15% of the price in the Philippines or 10% of a similar product in Singapore. Isn’t that amazing?

Talk about globalization and how you can exploit it for yourself! I found that true for other specific medicines as well.

Here are just a few examples for other more common products:

  • Band Aid wash proof: Rs 20 for 10 pieces
  • Immodium: Rs 20 for 10 capsules
  • Paracetamol 500: Rs 14 for 10 capsules
  • Vitamin B complex: Rs 15 for 10 capsules
  • Topical Antibiotic Spray: Rs 195 (40g)
  • Antibiotic Skin Cream: Rs 50 (10g)
  • Broad Spectrum Antibiotic: Rs 50 for 10 capsules

Now I just wish, they would be able to send all those cheap medicines abroad to my next travel destinations! ;-)

1. Low Consultation and Doctor fees

The best thing at last: as with everything else in India, it pays to ‘shop around’, compare prices and get an impression of the doctor for your special surgery first, before committing to a procedure. Luckily the initial costs are very low (for dental procedures, the first checkup is generally free of charge, while for other consultations the fees are very low, see below).

Costs for surgery are generally only a small percentage to health care costs of Europe, Australia or the US. When living in Singapore I was in awe over their low health care costs compared to my home country; I even did a LASIK surgery there, saving me two thirds compared to German costs.

But for minor surgery, you could save even more, considering getting it done here in India. One example: a friend from Singapore visited us here in Goa, to get a cyst removed on her wrist. While the same surgery would have cost between SGD 1.200-1.600, the same procedure was only around SGD 300-400 here in Goa. All with similar quality, aftercare and all costs included. That is only 25% of the cost compared with Singapore, worth considering, don’t you think?

Myself I had some dental work done here in Goa, composite resin fillings and tooth cleaning, all done very professionally and on short notice.

As mentioned above, to consult a specialist, you don’t have to pay a fortune here. From my own and my friend’s experience and what other Expats told me, here are some examples of consultation fees:

  • Dentist: First Consultation – free of charge
  • General Practitioner: Rs 100-200 per Visit
  • Dermatology: Rs 100-200 per Visit
  • Orthopedist: Rs 250 per Visit

For minor surgery, like the above mentioned cyst removal, here are some example prices:

  • Orthopedic Surgeon Charges: Rs 5.000 per surgery
  • Anesthetic Charges, local/regional anesthetics: Rs 1.500 per surgery
  • Operation Theater Charges: Rs 2.300 per surgery
  • Hospital bed per day: Rs 1.000-2.500 for common ward, depending on hospital
  • Hospital bed per day: Rs 3.000-5.000 for private room, depending on hospital

Here are some dental examples:

  • Glass Ionomer Filling: Rs 960
  • Composite Resin Filling: Rs 1.600
  • Porcelain to Metal Crown: Rs 7.200-10.500
  • Stellon/Fibre Glass/Travelon Dentures: Rs 12.000-24.000
  • Metal/Invisible Braces: Rs 24.000-44.000


Goa is an interesting location for getting your health propped up and getting those long postponed surgeries done. You have modern facilities, short waiting times and very affordable prices for procedures, hospital services and medicines. On top of that you will probably recover much faster, with a holiday in an exotic location added as a bonus.

These days with the global financial crisis upon us, prices for flights and package deals to Goa are as low as they can get. So why not trying it now to benefit from the low costs most. Maybe you can even strike a deal with your health insurance provider, either for them to cover parts of your costs or acknowledging an otherwise not possible surgery.

As with everything in India, you have to be aware of some pitfalls also: while medicine prices are generally fixed, this can’t be said about the services and hospital procedures. But there is a good competition, so look around, ask and compare prices before committing to anything. Talk to different doctors and if in doubt, stick with a larger and well-known hospital instead of a small private clinic.

What do you think? Would you consider Goa for having minor surgery or dental services done? Can India compare with the health systems in Europe, Australia or the US? Please make use of the comment form below and share your experiences and recommendations!

Are you an Expat, living in Asia without health insurance or a holiday maker from Europe?

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written by Chris

18 Responses to “Medical Tourism – 5 Reasons to consider Goa”

  1. MichaelNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    True, While I was initially worried about going to a a public hospital for very bad sunburn in Shimla, I need not have worried. Yes, there are people everywhere and the hospital itself may not have the flush furniture and carpet, air conditioning like western european hospitals, but the staff are first rate and trained as much if not better than those in the west. I was seen within 20 minutes by the doc and his medical students. diagnosed and sent off to another room for treatment. Prescribed creams, pain killers, bangages etc and was seen again 4 days later for checkup. total price for everything was 7 pounds sterling.

  2. JurgenNo Gravatar ITALY Says:

    Hi, I can only confirm what you’re saying! Let me tell you my story:
    Some years ago I got a huge composite filling in one of my teeth from my dentist in Europe. He told me that if it should fall out, and the possibilities are very big, than I would need this tooth to be capsuled.
    Last year in India the filling stayed attached to a chewing gum leaving a huge hole in my tooth. I panicked and was quite reluctant to go to an Indian dentist but I had no choice. The positive surprise came immediately. The dentist asked me whether I wished to get my tooth capsuled or if I prefer to cement my old filling temporary. Still reluctant I opted for the second asking for the price of a capsule though. I’ve been astonished to hear a mere 4000 Rs for it compared to more than 1000 Euros in Italy. An even bigger surprise has been the total cost for the examination, the consultancy and the cementing work done: only 250 Rs!!
    Conclusion: the temporary work that should have last not more than a couple of months is still perfectly working after more than a year and I haven’t and will not give a visit to my European dentist ever again! I’m waiting to come back to Mother India and will get the final work done there… :-)

  3. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Michael, glad your mishap worked out like that for you. Did you visit the ‘Sunburn Festival’ in Shimla? I thought they only have that in Goa? :D

    Jurgen, wow, I’m sure you can get even cheaper deals elsewhere in India then in Goa. I was already surprised to see those prices and experience the quality here. So yeah, it surely pays to shop around for the best deals and trust your instincts. ;-)

  4. James G - Expat Rock StarNo Gravatar THAILAND Says:

    Its unbelievable to see the prices of medical care when you exclude the massively expensive malpractice insurance, 70% federal and personal tax rate, 20 dollar an hour janitors and 300K med school debt.

    I had to go to the emergency room at a private hospital here in Bangkok a week ago, I had a private room, two doctors checked me out, I got a shot to reduce my temp, two bags of IV cuz I was dehydrated, and 5 prescriptions

    Total cost

    76 dollars – about the same for one aspirin in a US emergency room

  5. Mike OwenNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Hello again, First and most important—I do most sincerely hope all this health or illhealth) information you gave learnt, its not because you have had something wrong with you. This would upset me, you havent been in Goa to even settle in, never mind startung to enjoy it. So, on the assumption that you are more or less O.K. and enjoying yourself, I cannot believe how much time you must have spent on your research. I take my hat off to you. If I had been in your position, well, yes, I might have done it for a day or two but then the temptation of all the nice little eating-drinking-talking-sun taking would have won. Good on you Mike

  6. AudreyNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    We met an older American man working in India who had a full day of tests on his heart on all the latest machines at a private hospital in New Delhi. All the results were given to him and explained by the doctors themselves (not assistants) and the care was great. Total cost for the day =$150.

    My husband and I tell our American friends that if we really needed major dental work or surgery done, we would put ourselves on a plane to Thailand or India (if we could manage the flight). The looks on our friends’ faces are sheer shock. For us, the thought of checking into an American hospital – even with decent insurance – is shocking, not only for the price but for the stories we hear of overworked and frazzled staff.

    Hope you’re doing well and don’t have to have too many more first hand experiences with the Indian dental and medical system.

  7. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    James G – glad to hear that you had great experiences with the medical system in Bangkok as well!

    Mike Owen, no worries – but thanks anyway! Besides a few allergies and some maintenance medicine I’m luckily pretty low maintenance concerning my health. But I’m naturally interested and I also checked out some things for our Singaporean visitor. So when driving around with the scooter it’s no big thing to just stop at an hospital and ask. The most difficult thing is more to write it all down, getting it out of my head into an electronic form. :-o

  8. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Audrey, I guess most Westerners in Europe but even in the US are simply spoiled by the health care system there; probably not realizing that it isn’t actually that good; as it costs an arm and a leg to get proper and well qualified care. I’m not sure yet, if I would trust completely in the system in India for life-threatening or other serious surgeries, but it surely worked out for other people.

    And yeah, my dental work here I just postponed from Bali, where the dentists aren’t said to be that great. And I heard several good stories about the famous and magic Goan dentists. Though it was nothing serious, just the renewal of some cracked fillings and some cleaning, it was all done nicely and very affordable here, so it worked for me.

    About 3 years ago I had some fillings replaced in Phuket/Thailand, which was of even better quality, but slightly higher prices. The best dental work in Asia so far I had about 6 years back in Singapore, at a small private VIP-Dentist in Club Street/Chinatown; but then for that money back then I probably could have gotten complete new teeth here in Goa. :D

  9. Carnival of Blogs #14 | Nomadic Matt's Travel Site UNITED STATES Says:

    […] If you are looking for medical tourism, Nomad4Ever has five good reason to do it in Goa. […]

  10. CuckooNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Came from Nomadic matt’s blog. You have etched out all plus points of Goa beautifully.
    I have also written some posts on Goa but they give different flavour.
    Here http://www.cuckooscosmos.com/Travel/category/my-india/goa/

  11. AndyNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Medical Tourism in Goa? Mate you’ve been travelling too long and your brain is going mushy.

  12. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Andy, apart from my mushy brain, do you have any obvious reasons, why you think it’s not worth it?

  13. AndyNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    It’s the third world. I spent two days in a private hospital in Goa, they were very nice, but it’s not world class not by a long long way.

    But to be fair If the procedure is very minor then I think it could be considered, but I think people get lulled into a false sense of security, and when things go wrong the third world is not a place you want to be. I say this because of the facilities available and also the culture of asian doctors in that they will never be 100% honest with you. Wheras in the west you’ll always get the worst case scenarios for fear of the doctors being sued.

    I’ve have been there when things have gone very badly wrong, I don’t know perhaps someone would have to experience it to really appreciate my point of view.

  14. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Andy – thanks a lot for some more details. Now where is that so different from what I said above? ;-)

    General Healthcare, dental or minor surgeries I would do without worries here. Buying cheap medicine OTC also.

    For life-threatening procedures or higher risk surgeries I agree with you, that you are better of in a western country. For me that would also include Singapore. For my LASIK surgery in the National Eye Center there a few years back, the professionalism was definitely on par, if not better than back in Germany.

    Last thing I read, the chance of getting infected by heavy-resistant staphylococci is meanwhile the highest in British or American hospitals.

  15. johnNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Yes, India is really a great place to visit and onc can find numerous solutions of world-class healthcare and that too at affordable price tags.

  16. HeleneNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Thanks for your contribution to Take Charge of Your Health Care Carnival. Medical tourism is becoming increasingly more popular due to the exorbitant costs that we have to pay here in the West especially in the U.S..

  17. raulhudsonNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Most of the foreign Medical tourists prefer Goa due to different reasons. Doctors in Goa can speak perfect English which helps the patients to communicate easily with them. Due to much technological advancement and improvement, standards of care and the affordability of international travel have become the primary factors leading to the popularity of medical tourism in Goa.

  18. lolaNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    hey doing a story on medical tourism in Goa. ny1 whose gotten treatments here care to give me a quote?

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