Chile's government will pay for the non-urgent medical treatment given to citizens of that country at the hospital in the Argentine Patagonia city of Esquel, effective next month, following an agreement with the province of Chubut.
Emergencies will continue to be eligible for free of charge assistance.
It was also announced that incoming patients will be required to produce a note from a Chilean physician attesting to the inavailabiity of a proper treatment for the malady in question at their place of residence.
Esquel Hospital Director Carlos Winter underlined that there will be no fees charged to any tourist who suffers an accident. He [or she] will be taken care of attended as usual, he explained. Nobody has ever been denied attention here.
Chilean patients must come with a medical referral from one of the three hospitals in Chaitén, Futaleufú and Palena, in the south of that country, Winter also pointed out.
The beds we have are not too many and sometimes we have the hospital ward at the limit. We have to take into account that the Esquel Zonal Hospital is the head of the entire mountain range area of Chubut and receives patients from 14 rural hospitals. Therefore, the demand is high and sometimes we do not have enough space for the number of patients we receive, he added.
Tourists who suffer some kind of accident or need emergency medical attention will be attended like any other person, he stressed.
Medical tourism to Argentina is picking up pace thanks to the exchange rate between the local peso and the US dollar, it was also reported.
According to the Argentine Chamber of Medical Tourism (CATM), before the pandemic, the country received a monthly average flow of 1,000 foreigners seeking surgeries or treatments. That figure is to be matched in the second semester of 2022, CATM said.
These tourist-patients stem chiefly from Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, Chile, the United States, Canada and Europe. In some cases, medical care in Argentina can be between 40% and 80% less expensive than in these countries and territories.