Medical tourism generally refers to patients visiting another country for the treatment of their medical conditions as the same treatment within their home country would cost them a lot more. Additionally, it may be the case that they do not get sufficient medical facilities in their home country for the treatment of a particular disease or medical condition.
Under these circumstances too, patients think about going for medical tourism or global healthcare in a country where they could get treated for their problem. People generally cross international borders for healthcare with the support of a medical tourism provider that takes care of their accommodation, general care and medical treatment, while the patient bears its cost.
In this medical tourism guide, we will discuss everything that matters for the growth and popularity of this market. You will read about:
A Guide to evolution and growth of Medical Tourism by Dr Prem Jagyasi –Definition, History, Why it is popular,Importance, Benefits, Key Drivers, Challenges, Safety Issues, Awareness, and many more
Who are medical tourists?
People who stay in third-world countries usually travel to other countries when they seek specialized treatment for complex diseases or require surgeries to be done that can be quite expensive in their own country. You would have heard of patients going to foreign countries as they require dental treatment, cardiac and cosmetic surgeries, joint replacement, or psychiatric and convalescent care in medical tourism destination guides.
Some of the countries are providing good quality healthcare in these areas as they have efficient medical equipment, trained and professional staff, and well-equipped hospitals and facilities. They have raised their bar by improving their infrastructure and the kind of medical care staff they hire.
Patients who come on medical tourism usually remain satisfied with the treatment they receive in these countries as there are qualified doctors and caretakers to offer them the best of healthcare services.
Some of the countries that have been able to attract a large number of patients through medical tourism include Singapore, Germany,Cuba, India, Costa Rica, Jordan, Panama and Mexico. You will find the best of qualified doctors working in these countries who do not feel stigmatized at all while treating their patients from any country.
Medical tourism facilitators and providers assist all such patients who wish to travel to other countries for availing medical services. They are taking care of their transportation arrangements and see that they do not face problems while dealing with other people in the new country.
You would even find medical tourism facilitators offering interpretation assistance to patients who do not understand the language of the other country they are travelling to. Thus, patients get a chance to easily and slowly explore the new location in a supportive manner so they feel relaxed and refreshed.
What do you mean by Medical Tourism and Medical Value Travel?
Medical Value Travel takes a lion’s share in Medical Tourism numbers and revenue. This particular term defines the phenomenon of patients traveling from a developed nation to other parts of the world for medical care. The motivating factor behind such movement is usually a desire to get treatment at a lower and more favorable cost.
There is also a reverse flow as people from underdeveloped countries, or from countries that lack in sufficient healthcare, travel to other parts of the world for medical support.In some cases, people travel to other countries to get medical procedures that are unwelcome or denied in their home countries.
To be clear, Medical Tourism does not essentially imply cross-border travel or globetrotting. It could as simply mean traveling to a different region or state in your home country, owing to a number of factors both personal, and medical. One could decide to go to a different region looking for better facilities, the fame of a particular institution and surgeon, or for a personal reason like being together with friends and family.
Dissecting the ancient roots of Medical Tourism–The History
While many believe medical tourism to be a new and modern concept, it is in fact a tradition that is as ancient as tourism itself. Before traveling to another country to get a surgery for economic reasons became fashionable, physicians asked people suffering with various ailments to travel to towns and hamlets like the Belgian town of Spa or even Bath in England where natural hotwater springs sprouted.
Traveling to remote monasteries where monks used rare herbs to cure specific ailments, and pilgrimage spots like Lourdes in France (renowned as places of healing) were the most common established practices.
The idea of medical tourism is rooted in the health complexes created by the people of Sumer in 4000 B.C. Conceived as vital segments of healthcare delivery systems, medical tourism included mineral water springs along with flowing wells or pools, as well as temples on elevated sites.
Many other civilizations also valued the advantages of using mineral rich water in the health care system and promoting the same as a different unit of tourism, but none of them could take any significant initiative.
The history-old concept of health tourism has evolved a lot. The basic feature of this unique system was the use of mineral-rich water, which has eventually transformed into ‘Spa’. It is the abbreviation of a Latin word ‘Salus per Aquam’, which means ‘health by water’.
In England, spa towns and sanitariums became very popular in the eighteenth century for providing mineralized water as well as treating several diseases. Some other places where medical tourism flourished include Germany, Belgium, Britain, Japan, Switzerland and India.
We will acquaint you with a brief history of medical tourism divided into three major parts: period before Christ, period after Christ and the developments in the 21st Century.
Period before Christ
Though traveling for health was a costly affair earlier, the scenario has changed now because of the obsequious worldwide economy.As early as 4200BC, health recuperations included baths in thermal springs or fountains housed in lofty, grandiose temples. The Sumerians were the first to host these temples of yore and provide people from all over the world with a cure that was missing in their respective countries.
In the year 300 BC, the Greek civilization showed promising growth in the budding infirmary field. A small province in the Saronic Gulf – Epidaurus housed centers providing abundant services like temples, gymnasiums, steam baths, curative farms, baths, etc. Some examples of such establishments were the Olympian Sanctuary of Zeus and the Delphian temples.
As civilization advanced and entered the metal age around 2000 BC, people started to use bronze utensils to drink from the mineral-rich thermal springs.
Around the same time, the Romans popularized Thermae or ancient public steam baths, which, aside from offering treatment, helped commoners develop a sense of social life as well.
During 1500 BC, the Greeks laid the foundation stone of Asclepiad temples in honor of their God of medicine. These temples were the Mecca of convalescent centers. They opened up a vast network for travelers seeking recovery from their illnesses.
Yoga and Ayurveda
India made great contributions in bringing the ancient healing measures to the present stage. Yogic healing and Ayurvedic medications attracted several civilizations to the Indian civilization, seeking cures for their physical and spiritual woes.
Period after Christ
During the 12th-13th centuries, another Asian nation, Japan, emerged as a major remedial contributor. Hot mineral springs, widely known as Onsen, captured the attention of warriors for their miraculous curative properties.
Cairo was yet another ancient medical tourism hub where an advanced infirmary, Mansuri, flourished sometime during 1250 AD.
Salude per aqua
The term salude per aqua or ‘spa’ was coined for iron-rich hot springs located in the town of Waters (Ville d’Eaux) in erstwhile Europe. In the subsequent years (14th and 15th centuries), people toured European destinations like Bath, St. Mortiz, Ville d’Eaux, Baden Bade and Aachen not just for treatment but also for tourism.
New World therapies
A growing trend of residing near medicinal springs until the complete recovery gripped the Europeans towards the 17th century. However, newer therapies emerged after the discovery of the New World, wherein natives provided herbal remedies for serious ailments. Comparable to Far Eastern or African cultures, the natives of America were accomplished in ancient healing techniques and thus boosted the influx of health travelers to their nation.
The earliest form of hospitals, called sanatoriums, surfaced during the 18th and 19th century. Serious diseases like liver disorders, tuberculosis, gout and bronchitis were surfacing rapidly and sufferers frantically searched for places to cure and isolate these highly infectious syndromes.
In such an era, sanatoriums provided welcome relief and patients did not mind traveling to distant countries to avail themselves of such therapeutic opportunities. The kind of resources, physicians or services offered by the sanatorium depended on the national origin and opulence.
The Industrial Revolution
Few things have had as massive an impact on our world as the Industrial Revolution. As the steam engine first chugged and new transport methods became available, medical tourism got a huge shot in the arm.
People could now travel to different locations much faster, at lower costs, and in greater volumes. Traveling distances for medical needs actually became practical. Doctors increasingly started suggesting treatments like “a change in scenery,” made possible and affordable on the large scale by the facilities brought forth by the Industrial Revolution.
The late 20th century saw the several developing countries offer specialization surgeries as part of medical tourism initiatives. The specialized surgeries were available in advanced nations, but executed at a dear price. Developing countries took advantage of the gulf in pries to promote medical tourism facilities of their own.
For example, Cuba started propagating its capabilities worldwide and gained eminence in cardiac, cosmetic and even optical surgeries. While countries in Central America became quite famous for dental procedures, Thailand started gaining prominence for plastic surgery and even customary medical procedures during the late 90s.
How Medical Tourism is spreading across the world?
Medical tourism revolves around certain groups of patients who travel developing or semi-developed countries in order to get some affordable medical alternatives like dental surgery, cosmetic surgery, heart surgery, knee and hip surgery, etc. that are not easily available in their own countries. The combination of cheaper medical treatment and amazing holiday experience is a great point of attraction for medical tourists. They are also opting for overseas treatment in order to avoid inevitable medical expenses, cut down longer waiting period, get better medical facilities and strengthen privacy protection.
Here is a list of some countries that have earned great reputation in the field of medical tourism:
Hungary: It is one of the highly esteemed medical tourism destinations having the best-trained medical professionals for dental surgeries and other dental treatments at very low prices as compared to Britain and America.
Read more about Medical Tourism in Hungary
Colombia: Colombia is an extremely famous place known for expert medical professionals as well as affordable laser eye surgery, heart transplantation (Bypass surgery) and cosmetic surgery. It is marked as the safest and cheapest destination for surgery procedures. There is also a great scope of getting donated organs for foreigners.
Read more about Medical Tourism in Costa Rica
India: It is the one and only place in the entire Asia having excellent hospital chains like Fortis, Max and Apollo where nearly all types of surgeries, replacements and transplantations are available at very reasonable rates. It also offers professional advices and first-rate amenities to patients and their relatives.
Read more about Medical Tourism in India
Mexico: Mexico is a leading medical tourism destination, standing at the apex position for all types of dental treatments and weight lose programs. Instead of being very close to the United States of America, this country can be called an economic medical service provider in terms of weight lose and dental surgery.
Read more about Medical Tourism in Mexico
Czech Republic: The Republic of Czech is considered as one of the well-developed countries, which have advanced their footsteps in medical science. Being a famous place having superior infrastructure for cosmetic surgery, Czech Republic has become a point of attraction especially to European visitors.
Read more about Medical Tourism in Czech Republic
Thailand: Thailand is having specialization in all types of surgeries and transplantations including heart surgery, neurosurgery, dental surgery and hip replacement. It is also a good place for spa and other relaxation services. Thai Government is playing a pivotal role in turning the country into a foremost medical tourism destination.
Costa Rica: Costa Rica is an extremely exotic and natural beauty-enriched spot. It is a one-stop destination for availing affordable dental surgery, orthopedic surgery and heart surgery up to 75 percent cheaper than the USA.
How countries are trying to attract medical tourists in bulk?
Medical tourism is a prospering industry but it is still a new one and does not have a rigid definition. There is still place and opportunities for experimentations. Many countries are offering great medical facilities at affordable prices along with other attractive services. Medical facilities are not easily available in all countries. In some countries, there is an acute lack of doctors and hospitals. In such countries, the government is spending huge sums for sending the citizens to another country for getting the essential medical treatments.
According to the survey reports of World Health Organization, Nigeria only has four physicians for every ten thousand people. Countries like Nigeria are sending their patients in bulk to other countries. Not any individual but the governments of countries are taking initiative to send their citizens to other countries as medical tourists. Such a trend has created immense opportunity for business and the expansion of the medical tourism industry.
Close proximity or distance and making agreements are two ways through which a country can get another country send their patients in bulk to them for medical tourism. Countries where medical facilities are easily available are vying for the attention of other countries that are ready to export patients. They are making agreements or else gaining profit from advantageous geographical position. Countries like Jordan with a great medical infrastructure are trying to gain the attention of other countries like Nigeria for improving the state of their medical tourism industry.
Every year Nigeria and other countries like it spend billions of dollars on sending their patients to medical tourism destinations. They have started to realize the need and importance of building a better medical infrastructure inside their own country. Despite of the attempts of improving internal medical facilities there will always be a gaping gap between the demand and supply of medical facilities.
Turning our attention to South Asia, Malaysia is receiving patients from Indonesia in bulk. About 60% of foreign patients landing in Penang, the hot seat of Malaysia medical tourism, are from Indonesia.
As a result, the trend of bulk medical tourism will continue and increase in proportion. Jordan is planning to sign some bonds of agreement with Nigeria so that the government recommends them to the patients. Political harmony between two countries and the relation between their governments will also have a key role to play in the matters of bulk medical tourism.
Getting into the depths of Medical Tourism
Medical tourism has been playing a key role in global healthcare scenario today. Tourists from all corners of the world travel across the globe in order to receive medical treatment. There have been various reasons responsible for the emergence and development of the medical tourism scenario.
Availing the benefit of quality healthcare service may not be possible for many people, especially those living in the developed nations owing to the high expense. Thus, the next viable option is to travel across the globe for getting the same quality of healthcare at a much affordable cost. Many nations offer quality healthcare services at a fraction of the cost it would have incurred had the service been availed in developed countries.
The quality of service offered by many medical tourism spots is equal and even arguably better than that of the developed nations’ hospitals. Apart from this, the waiting time is also nearly eliminated as the hospitals in medical tourism destinations are able to cater efficiently to the tourist population.
An excellent reason, owing to which many medical tourists choose to travel to different parts of the world, would be to take advantage of the atmosphere for recuperating. The relaxing and scenic environment in most countries provides for an excellent background for recuperation.
However, many people have also opposed the idea of Medical tourism. There has been a growing number of protests against Medical tourism in recent times owing to many reasons.
The quality of the service
Many people have been vocal about the quality of service offered in these medical tourism destinations. Especially hospitals in emerging economies which try to cut down costs by compromising on quality aspects have been known to create such problems.
This aspect is also difficult to gauge owing to the lack of comprehensive universal quality rating scale. Thus, it becomes difficult for tourists to determine the quality of a particular service offered in certain hospitals.
Most of the emerging economies, which provide medical tourism facilities, are faced with problems such as lack of safety for civilians and tourists. Tourists are especially vulnerable owing to their lack of familiarity with the local surroundings. Thus, medical tourists who travel to such destinations maybe exposed to such safety issues.
Thus, for a medical tourist to avail the benefit of medical tourism, it is especially important to do a thorough research about the country and the healthcare facilities where the tourist is planning to visit.
Why traveling for medical treatment makes more sense
Medical tourism is a bonus for many. If you are a patient, your life can become particularly painful without the right treatment. Disease can be punishing, excruciating or exhausting, both physically and mentally. Why pay or suffer so much when there are better options available at affordable price? Medical tourism offers the patients of the first world countries a chance of being cured without breaking their bank accounts and all their saving on their treatment.
It has brought a new trend in the medical industry, which empowers the patients and gives them many options to choose or take the charge from their own treatment. Following are some reasons that will tell you that medical tourism is one of the best choices.
The best thing about the medical tourism is its low cost. It cuts down your medical expenses by an approximate more than 50 percent. Countries like the USA and Canada, the cost of the general dental surgeries have skyrocketed. Most of the middle class people cannot afford medication, medical checkups and elaborate surgeries on time. The same treatments in a developing country along with lodging and plane fare would cost only half of what you have to spend at your native land.
Healthcare and services
Nursing homes in developing countries like India provide patient care and services at low cost. They have well-qualified, skilled and talented surgeons and nurses. Care and warmth are given out to both the patient and his family or friends. Some of the nursing homes and health resorts also provide translators to remove the idiom barrier.
Effectiveness and instant accessibility
The best thing about medical tourism is that the surgeons and doctors are first-rated who have earned their degrees from the top and esteemed medical schools in the US and other developed countries. Patients get instant treatment and it starts as soon as you confirm your admission.
Chance to visit exotic locales
Patients get a chance to visit exotic locales and being treated by the best doctors at the same time is lucrative. Hospitals in South Africa offer a wildlife safari along with the treatment and many nursing homes include city tours in their treatment package.
Emergence of Medical Tourism in the 21st Century
Improving and maintaining ourselves physically and mentally is something that we all aim for. We want a disease free body and mind, which includes smoother or clearer skin, peace of mind and much more. Therefore, medical tourism had made this possible in an affordable manner. It allows people to seek excellent medical care in foreign countries in order to get rid of all types of ailments.
The prosperous history of medical tourism and its incessant growth over the years is enough to give anyone an idea about its rising trends in 21st century. This is the sole reason why millions of people are now opting for medical trip to other countries for obtaining any dental, surgical and regular medical care.
The medical trip can be due to saving cost, high-quality treatment and fun at a tourist destination to convalesce at a pace that would not be otherwise possible at your own country. It is a recent example of niche tourism, with the fast rise of international travel in search of cosmetic surgery, dental care and solutions to various medical conditions, benefiting healthcare providers, local economies and the tourism industry.
Though medical tourism is a comparatively new development, the niche industry already has impressive statistics related to its operations. The annual cost of medical travel is around $40 billion all over the world, whereas the average expense of a medical tourist is approximately $3,000 to $5,000 for each visit.
As the medical costs are skyrocketing in developed countries, there is a continuous increase in patients’ tendency to travel to developing countries to seek healthcare. The countries that are becoming hot destinations for the patients from the developed countries include Thailand, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Mexico, Korea, and a few other nations in the Middle East.
The primary reason behind this rising trend of medical tourism is excellent healthcare at a fraction of the cost in developed countries, which is attributable to:
- Significantly lower labor cost
- Much less expenditure associated with the litigation for unprofessional conduct
- Flexible laws and regulations
- Restricted engagement of third-party clients
Some other factors that contribute to the growth of the medical tourism industry include:
- Huge uninsured population and insured people bearing the costs of elective surgeries and ‘pre-existing’ medical conditions.
- Aging population, considered a ‘burden’ for the healthcare industry.
- No accessibility to alternative therapies like Ayurvedic treatments, Homeopathy, naturopathy etc.
- Long waiting period for several surgical procedures.
However, the competition in the industry is also escalating with its rapid growth. Major medical destinations are experiencing challenges due to notable expansions in specialized medical sciences. Owing to this increasing competition, countries have started offering excellent services at competitive prices.
Certain other commercial sides, such as benefits of insurance, tourism, trading, etc. have also modified the purpose of the practice and turned it into an international industry. All these are helping various medical destinations attract more medical travelers and strengthen their global presence at the same time.
Rise of developing countries
When it comes to medical tourism, developing countries always remain ahead of developed ones. Be it cutting-edge technology or healthcare costs, western countries lag behind the less-developed nations in terms of every single aspect of medical travel. You will get detail information in our medical tourism destination guides done countrywise.
The majority of the developing nations that are coming up as great medical destinations are accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI) and offer world-class, specialized, customized as well as cost-effective healthcare along with insurance benefits.
Thailand, the beautiful country located in Southeast Asia, is one of the most preferable medical destinations. Patients from developed countries can get a highly positive medical experience in Thailand at a very affordable cost.
From staying at a lush hotel to undergoing a last-minute medical procedure, the Thai Government has made each and everything possible for medical tourists without burning holes in their pockets. The country provides advanced treatments like stem cell therapy along with traditional healthcare services. As there is no threat of strict regulations or mismanagement grievances in Thailand, the industry runs quite smoothly.
The ‘incredible’ country India also has an international reputation for its growing business of medical tourism. Accessibility to world-class healthcare infrastructure at low to moderate costs is the specialty of Indian medical tourism. Thousands of medical practitioners in the country have obtained their degrees from the world’s top medical universities.
Nurses and technicians working in India have also earned fame for their excellent care, cooperation and skills. Indian hospitals and medical facilities have the most advanced medical equipment, which turn the dental, surgical and medical procedures into faster and smoother ones. Alternative medicine or treatment is another major attraction of the medical tourism in India. The country has also made the concept of surrogacy tourism popular throughout the world.
Mexico is another prominent addition to the list of developing countries having the best medical tourism destinations. The country draws around 1 million foreign patients each year. Healthcare at an economical rate is one of the major attractions of Mexican medical tourism.
The services offered by the hospitals and other medical facilities in the country are so reasonably priced that one can visit a doctor at $25 and stay hospitalized for a whole night at $35 only. Medical tourists mainly go to Mexico for dental treatments as well as weight loss surgeries.
Envisioning the future
With so many positive sides such as cheaper costs, world-class services, alternative therapies, well-qualified doctors, and so on, medical tourism is the future of global healthcare. More and more people from the developed countries are crowding in the developing and third world countries for obtaining surgical, medical, dental treatments and any other type of cure that exists.
As the multiplicity and intricacy of various diseases are increasing, the trend of visiting foreign countries to undertake treatments is also going up. According to the leading medical tourism guide ‘Treatment Abroad’, surgery is the most popular choice of medical tourists. They choose this exclusive form of healthcare mainly for undergoing elective surgeries or non-emergency surgeries including joint replacement surgeries (hip replacement, knee replacement, etc.), laser eye surgeries, and so on.
Plastic surgeries or cosmetic surgeries are highly-demanded medical tourism procedures which further include facelift, liposuction, rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, etc. People are also opting for dentistry works like veneers, dental restoration (crowns), etc.
Quality is one of the biggest aspects of medical tourism. In most of the cases, medical travelers are gaining the maximum value for their investment. According to this dentist in Staten Island medicine has always been a great career option and with the inception of medical tourism, the trend has gone even bigger. Lots of staff doctors working in the health care facilities in developing nations have obtained their training from the US or UK. The majority of hospitals in these countries have accreditation from the Joint Commission (US).
Besides, the invention of new drugs, launch of new pharmaceutical patents, introduction of cutting-edge surgical technologies, use of advanced machineries, thriving national infrastructure, affordable traveling, fast and easy loan procedures, etc. are contributing to the global healthcare sector.
Technology and affordability make Medical Tourism a success
The big buzzword one needs to consider in terms of healthcare these days is “affordability.”In some countries, even the basic surgeries could mean huge bills to a patient. While in second or third world countries, the same surgery costs much less despite any major difference in the quality of care provided by hospitals in the two respective nations. That is what, in a nutshell, provides the required impetus to the medical tourism industry.
Why Medical Tourism is a big deal in the modern world?
For many of us, the very notion of traveling to a different country for medical treatment might sound riskier than traveling there to explore the local haute cuisine. While the risks associated with traveling to another country and placing your health in the hands of a total stranger are real, patients with limited means should not ignore them altogether.
What are the Key Drivers of Medical Tourism?
A large chunk of medical tourists includes retirees and pensioners. This part of the population essentially lives on their life’s savings, pensions and whatever investments they have made. Government sponsored healthcare for this section of the society often doesn’t cover expensive surgeries and experimental therapies.
For example, a heart valve replacement in the US costs $160,000 while the same surgery at a super specialty hospital in Thailand costs roughly $10,000. For a pensioner, this means a huge saving.Another section that finds medical tourism rather attractive includes patients traveling out of the country for nonessential or cosmetic procedures.
In the US, a simple breast augmentation procedure could cost around $10,000 plus the cost of postoperative care. Getting the same surgery in India would cost around $2450 and the postoperative care would cost lesser given the exchange rate (prices may fluctuate over time).
Non-personnel related factors also drives the multi-billion dollar global medical tourism industry.The drug and medical care-regulating agency of a country may not approve some new procedure or therapy. The FDA in the US, for example, was quite reluctant to approve hip resurfacing surgery until some years ago. Hence, anyone who wanted to enjoy the benefits of this surgical process needed to travel out of the country.
Hospitals and medical facilities in many popular medical tourism destinations now flaunt top-notch standards when it comes to offering the highest level of care, treatment and surgeries to patients.
How medical tourism is combining health and fun together?
Joy Guion, 39 a utility worker weighs 283 Pounds, hails from North Carolina, with a medical history of severe chronic obesity and the fact that diabetes and heart disease was a part of their family troubles was devastating, headed for Costa Rica for weight loss surgery.
Another companion of Guion, Gary Harwell, 65 a retired manager who happens to be her Ex-colleague accompanied her to Costa Rica to get a knee replacement at the Hospital Clinica Biblica. The exciting part was that the company they once worked for would bear all the expenses, be it travel, surgery or the postoperative recovery.
Supplement the National Income
The fact that travel could be such a win-win situation for the patients and the place they get treatment seems bizarre. ABC’s World News with Daine Sawyer and Nightline featured the homecoming of two patients who had the most satisfying experience of their lives. The president of the Medical Tourism Association Renee-Marie Stephano says that experiences like this build up the level of the conviction and assurance among the nations.
Stephano further added that Medical Tourism Association plays a role of selective platform for its associates like HSM and Hospital Clinica Biblica, the healthcare centres where the medical practitioners, workers, and government officials as an outcome of their impeccable trainings make sure the patients have an experience of a lifetime.
A report by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says that this is simply the result of the expensive and day after day increasing expenditure of the medical facilities and healthcare, that the people like Guion and Harwell are forced to go and get a treatment overseas. No doubt that even after using their insurance, which covers their medical bills as well, Guion and Harwell would have to bear an amount which Guion says she could never have afford. In Costa Rica, it cost them nothing. The same fact gives an idea to the American corporations that they should rather outsource the medical tourism.
If this comes as a surprise then be aware of the fact that HSM says that outsourcing alone let them make an amount of almost $10 million in last 5 years (covers up the healthcare cost).
A Treatment, which does not cost heavy on your pocket
If we compare the expenditure of Guion’s and Harwell’s surgery in United States and Costa Rica, where Guion would have to spend an amount of $30, 000, it cost her $17,386 only in Costa Rica. Harwell paid $23,531 only in Costa Rica, instead of spending a huge amount of $50,000 in his very own country. This is not it; they saved an amount of $2,500 as a saving on mutual expenditure of their insurance.
What can be better then mixing health and fun together, Guion and Harwell spent some quality time along with the routine checkups by their physicians. Both Guion and Harwell got over with their surgeries without medical hitches and load on their pockets as well.
How medical tourism successfully combines healthcare and tourism?
The medical tourism industry is flourishing and growing with rapid speed. It seems that finally, the patients of developed countries have accepted medical tourism as a viable, safe and fun way of getting top quality medical facilities.
Medical tourism has merged the tourism and healthcare industries together so that an individual can enjoy the benefits of medical care while enjoying a luxurious trip at a foreign and exotic locale. South Asian countries like Thailand and India have emerged as two of the biggest providers of medical tourism facilities.
The interest of the patients in exploring a new locale and traveling to a far away country has encouraged the medical tourism facilitators to offereven better healthcare and tourism opportunities in the same package.
The exorbitantly priced medical treatments in the developed countries have forced patients to travel to the far away third world nations for treatment. The packages offered by medical tourism providers are fascinating. The patients get medical and surgical treatments at less than half the price that they would have paid at their homeland. At the same time they get first class amenities and accommodation facilities. The middle class people of the developed nations have to save money for their future and often they cannot afford the right medical treatments at their town. It takes months of waiting before a costly surgery is scheduled. Disappointed by the national healthcare system they have turned to medical tourism.
The third world countries are updating themselves so that the foreign patients admire the facilities offered to them and keep coming back for more. Some hospitals that provide medical tourism facilities have a separate department for medical research. Most of the doctors at these nursing-homes have got their degrees from developed countries and are experts of their particular domain of medicine. Foreign patients are offered luxurious cabins and their family members also get free accommodation and food along with them.
Post operative care is also provided to the foreign patients and they get to see some of the most beautiful locales before or after their surgery. No one is immune to the lure of travel, relaxation and medical treatments at the cost of a single surgery.
Importance of medical tourism in today’s world
We all worry about daily expenses and have to toil to make a substantial deposit in the savings account every month. Though we keep some amount aside for the medical expenditure for times of crisis and buy medical insurance, life can always surprise us. Medical tourism is a great way of getting better medical facilities without spending enormous sums of money.
Life loses its balance when sudden medical expenses crop up out of nowhere. The residents of developed nations have to face regular difficulty in getting timely medical attention or treatments. In some developed countries, citizens have to wait their turn for months before a doctor checks them up.
Getting X-ray and MRI done may take a few weeks in the developed nations due to the huge number of patients who try to get governmental medical facilities. But waiting for a long time to get diagnosed may complicate your medical condition. Such problems can only be countered by medical tourism.
Money is a resource which should be spent in the best possible ways without wastage. An intricate heart surgery may cost around $160,000 in the US but the same will require only $9,000 in India.
Apart from lowering the cost, medical tourism offers many other benefits.Innovative initiatives from medical tourism facilitators have further added to those benefits. The services you will get in the developing countries along with treatment will really surprise you. The medicines and injections are given to patients by qualified nurses instead of orderlies.
The suites for foreign patients have more than two rooms and multiple bathrooms. Your family members can have meal with you at your suite itself. Some of the nursing homes also provide a city tour along with treatment. The sea beaches or mountains or a wildlife safari can revive your waning spirits and refresh your family members.All these come in nicely packaged deals.
We don’t get a chance to travel to foreign countries often or visit exotic locales. Medical tourism is collaboration between medical care facilities and tourism industry. Getting away from the buzz of your native city can do a lot of good. Medical tourism facilitators are arranging translators for fluent and smooth communication.
Most of the doctors and surgeons have got their degrees from western medical schools. The reputed medical associations of America, Australia and UK have certified the leading hospitals and nursing homes in developing nations.
Medical tourists are also getting cosmetic surgery done at less than half the price they have to pay in their native hospitals at the developing countries. Moving away from your familiar surrounding can be a bit scary but with the development of technology the fear of the unfamiliar has reduced than before.
A great collaboration between health care facility and tourism industry is contributing to the growth of medical tourism market. Getting away from the buzz of your native country can do many good. Medical tourism facility providers arrange translators to remove the language barriers. The best thing about medical tourism is that most of the renowned healthcare centers appoint doctors who have acquired their degrees from western medical schools.
How medical tourism is booming as a luxury travel?
Medical tourism has become one of the most popular affairs in today’s world. The popularity of health travel or medical tourism also escalating because of significantly rising health issues across the world. It is generally to overseas destinations, but in some cases of domestic travels can also be considered as a part of medical travel.
People of developed countries often get confused whether they should opt for medical tourism or not. There are many countries, such as the US, that offer national health programs to their citizens. However, people choose medical tourism because they do not want to wait long for surgeries or other particular treatments. There are quite a few nations where costly private medical plans are customary and medical tourism can be a great choice in such cases. Medical tourism is a great option for both insured and uninsured people, as it offers maximum care at minimal prices. Patients also go for medical tourism in order to experience specialty treatments and advanced care.
Insurance coverage is one of the most vital factors that patients need to consider before starting as a medical traveler. When it comes to insurance coverage for medical tourism, domestic travelers can take complete advantage. However, overseas tourists or patients will only be covered if they choose a foreign branch for medical treatment.
Many hospitals, nursing homes and health resorts offer a wide range of medical care and treatments. Services typically sought by patients include elective procedures as well as complex specialized surgeries, such as cardiac surgery, joint replacement, dental surgery and cosmetic surgeries. However, almost every type of healthcare, including psychiatry, alternative treatments are available.
Luxury medical tourism is another emerging niche market where the super-rich and the affluent are looking for long stay medical tourism in popular destinations. They are looking for delightful experiences imbibed with luxury in travel, accommodation, treatment, and recuperation. Their aim is to enjoy a ‘holistic healing’ experience in an extremely pampering and relaxing setting without compromising their well-being needs.
Medical tourism destinations like Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Caribbean Islands, and the Middle East region are setting up luxurious high-end medical wellness facilities for this emerging market. They are offering curated programs satisfying individual health, well-being, and vacationing needs. It is very likely we would see the emergence of medical tourism real estate, a sector entirely dedicated to cater to long stay luxury medical tourists.
Why baby boomers are opting for medical tourism?
Medical tourism has gained massive popularity over the last 10 years as a way to cure health problems and enhance future savings through affordable medical treatments along with attractive foreign trips.
The most striking facts about baby boomers in medical tourism come from the US where more than half of the US population will be 50+ years old by 2030. The number of elderly Americans over 65+ years will double and those aged 85 and more will quadruple by 2050. This will create a massive healthcare burden in the US.
The American Health Association 2007 report also states that doctor visits will cross 1 billion in 2020, and 4 out of 10 visits will be by the baby boomers. Advanced treatments and diagnostics and enhanced longevity of the boomers are more likely to drive medical tourism demands. Baby boomers are more likely to travel for dental treatments, cardiology, orthopedics, aesthetic treatments, and oncology services.
A recent survey depicts that people in European countries are much vigilant about ethical government policies, best quality treatments on lowest prices, most updated diagnostic tools and cutting-edge technologies available outside their countries. As a result, a fair number of patients from these nations requiring dental surgery, hip replacement, heart surgery and laser surgery are being referred to Indian hospitals.
Here we are explaining some of the big reasons why boomers are going abroad for treatment:
- Cost Efficient Treatment: In financial year 2013, the average cost of US dollar in Indian currency is Rs. 55 and same is the scenario with other developing countries. Currenciesprevailing in developedcountries are too much stronger in comparison to the Indian currency. Great opportunity of saving money is one of the big reasons for uninsured and underinsured patients to search medical alternatives and visit countries like India for heath treatments.
- Apex quality Treatment and Care: Asian sub continents are famous for their high quality medical treatments under the supervision of well-experienced doctors, at the most affordable rates. Different private hospitals in these locations are known to offer world class instrumentation facilities, low price meals, affordable affiliate hotels and cheap waiting lounges for their worldwide patients. Even the governments are contributing a lot to make these hospitals more patient-friendly.
- Excluded Treatments: Even when you are holding the best health insurance plan that offers accidental and illness coverage, you have to deal with some hidden terms and conditions. Usually, these factors include hospital room rent, bed expenses, ICU coverage, cosmetic surgery, certain types of vision treatment, reproduction complexities, congenital disorders, and so on. When people opt for medical tourism, they do not need to worry about the treatments excluded from their policies as anything and everything can be treated there.
Moreover, there are some specialty treatments, which are exclusively offered by the heath care centers of these countries. If we take the example of developed countries like America, the senate prohibits some sort of practices and prescriptions just because either they are in testing phases or their health hazards are intolerable. However, medical tourists do not need to face these issues in Asian subcontinents.
How Medical Tourism holds the key to solving your healthcare problems?
Impaired health can be the reason of grief and pain. It dominates the way you live and affects your family as well. Prevention is not always possible but cure should not slip out of your grip. Health care is an essential facility that everybody deserves. Sadly not all of us can afford quality health care services or treatments.
Waiting for medical checkups and arguments with health insurance agents can be very frustrating. For a middle class or working class family, sudden medical treatment or tests can cause a financial crisis. Medical tourism is an effective tool that endeavors to solve the health care related issues we have to face often.People are depending on reliable medical tourism facilitators and advisors for suitable overseas medical treatments not only for elective surgeries and treatments but also critical and complex treatments.
The first and most crucial concern regarding medical treatments and surgeries is definitely money. Even if you are well established and have a full-proof retirement plan, coping with medical expenses can be a financially daunting experience.
People often get medical insurance or health insurance with the hope that it will cover the expenses when trouble comes charging but many a times, they are disappointed by the terms and conditions of such insurance policies.
There are many diseases, ailments and treatments that do not come under the health insurance and you are left on your own. Medical tourism helps patients make an informed choice about their treatment in another country, overseas.Handholding support by a trustworthy medical tourism facilitator can be of immense help for a seamless and satisfying experience for the patient.
Medical tourism offers excellent treatment facilities at less than half the prices people have to pay in their home towns or native, developed countries. Good quality treatment and efficient patient care units are a reason of the popularity that medical tourism has gained in a short patch of time.
A patient who travels to a developing country from the US can cut down the expenses by more than 50 percent. The doctors and surgeons are well-qualified and many of the hospitals abroad are affiliated or accredited by the medical boards of US and Europe.
Timely treatment saves you from further health complications. Medical tourism helps you get treatment and health care services at the right time, without any delays. The hospitals abroad that facilitate the treatment of foreigners are trying to break the language barriers and provide better accommodation to their patients.
Medical tourism has emerged as a convenient solution to the health care related problems that First World Country citizens face like over-priced treatments and having to wait for getting medical checkups or tests done.Medical tourism businesses need to have a clear understanding of fair and transparent pricing to offer best healthcare solutions to patients in dire need.
Growth of medical tourism trends
Medical tourism industry is expanding and picking speed with each passing day. Globalization and information technology has turned the world into a small village. Travelling through continents for getting serious medical treatment or fancy corrective surgery has become a trend that no one can overlook any more. People have found that medical tourism is not as scary as they used to think. This growing comfort level to seek medical services overseas has led to the emergence of successful medical tourism businesses.
Tourism companies are branching out in this direction and corporate companies have shown interest in medical tourism as a health benefit for their employees. In a few years, medical tourism industry will become stronger. This industry will influence the developing countries to improve their medical infrastructure further.
The most prominent trend in medical tourism that has been observed is that it has become a mainstream business rather than an obscure option lurking in the background. In the 2012 hit and critically acclaimed movie ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ one of the main character, played by Maggie Smith, has been shown to go to India for a hip replacement surgery, which is now one a highly-demanded medical tourism procedure.
She gets healed fast and is quite happy with the whole procedure, so much so that she decides to stay back in Rajasthan. The movie has been very well received and achieved international film awards as well. This has made medical tourism something that people are doing and the trend will continue to grow.
The scarcity of medical care providers has made it necessary that permission is given to qualified medical professionals to practice their trade across the border. Since 2005 doctors under European Union have been given permit to cross borders and work in other countries than their native ones. This has created favorable grounds for expanding medical tourism procedures beyond cosmetic and dental treatments.
In 2015 when ASEAN achieves the designation of an economic union then medical care givers will be able to travel from country to another for performing surgeries. A bad side effect of the growing medical tourism industry is the trend of cheating medical tourists with boasts of first-class or first rated services while providing bad quality service and treatment facilities.Reputed medical tourism consultants and advisors have repeatedly voiced their concerns over such practices urging prospective medical travelers exercise caution in decision-making.
The results are obvious. People who are interested in medical tourism are becoming aware of the international political scenario through the internet. Medical tourists have started picking their treatment destination with more care and caution.
Countries like Lebanon and Israel are afflicted by warfare and drug rackets have not been controlled as they should have been, there are goons playing with guns in the open in Mexico. All this has made people more cautious about their travel destinations.
10 Reasons behind the increasing popularity of medical tourism
Over last few years, medical tourism has emerged as one of the most popular as well as profitable industries. Though the history of this exclusive health care system is almost thousand-year-old, no necessary step was taken by the ancient civilizations for developing or promoting it. The Greeks came up with an all-inclusive remedial system for the first time to make the most of the concept of medical travel.
There are more than a few reasons for which worldwide patients get attracted to medical tourism. Here, we have discussed top 10 factors driving the popularity of medical tourism across the globe thereby enhancing the future potential of medical tourism business in specific destinations.
1. Cost Efficiency
The first and foremost reason behind the increasing popularity of medical tourism is its cost efficiency. You can save a huge amount based on your preferred destination and the required therapeutic procedures. It has been seen that people can save as much as 50% in this way.
Unlike public health care system, medical tourism offers immediate access to effective health care services. As a result, patients with chronic diseases easily become eager to avail it and get rid of year-long pain.
3. Quality Services
Organizations offering medical tourism around the world are known to be highly committed to the quality of their services. They ensure the best possible health care services which patients usually do not get in their own countries.
4. Top-Notch Facilities
Being international service providers, these associations come with well-appointed accommodations for patients and their relatives, 24 hours hospitality, and so on.
5. Advanced Technologies
Use of state-of-the-art tools and technologies is another specialty of medical tourism. Equipment used in remedial procedures are the most recent as well as advanced ones.
6. Expert Surgeons
Each and every surgeon dealing with international patients is knowledgeable, skilled and professionally trained. Hence, medical tourists can definitely expect excellent services.
7. Tailored Services
The system of medical tourism boasts of offering personalized services to its consumers. As the staff to patient ratio is maintained considerably low there, patients are provided high quality care.
8. Longer Medical Supervision
A medical tourist can stay in the hospital under medical supervision for significantly longer time period, which might not be possible in his / her own country.
9. Ease and Convenience
As everything comes under one roof through medical tourism, people do not need to worry about the transportation, lodging, medical facilities, and so on individually.
10. Scope of Traveling
Apart from affordable health care facilities and services, excellent traveling opportunities also fetch the attention of many individuals. Tourists can visit and enjoy wonderful places while availing low-cost medical procedures.
How Medical Tourism Supports a Country’s Economy?
The rise in medical tourism has created a financial backup for several economies, thus helping to boost them up. A country can take good advantage by supporting its medical facilities to provide excellent healthcare services to people who come in from other countries for getting quality treatment for their various ailments and diseases.
If a nation has accredited hospitals, certified physicians and surgeons, there would be many medical tourists wanting to visit the country for a better treatment of their health conditions.
A great healthcare infrastructure creates ample opportunities for medical tourism business and investments enabling medical tourism facilitators, guides, and advisors market ample selling points to foreign patients. This will help any country to pull in those revenues that tourists would have otherwise contributed to their own economies had they been treated there well.
If the governments support hospitals to build their infrastructure and quality of healthcare, then these facilities can be made financially independent. Along with building up on healthcare facilities, governments also need to maintain their country’s infrastructure and services, as tourists would want a comfortable environment to stay in and also need to get involved in some recreational activities.
Foreign medical tourists can contribute a lot financially if they get the required facilities and services at comparatively lower prices in the destination country. Additionally, a country that works on the quality of its doctors, along with the numbers, can benefit hugely through medical tourism.
Medical tourism can be a great revenue generator if a country can set a positive reputation in the global medical marketsetting standards of best practices in medical tourism business. This would undoubtedly reflect in the country’s boosting economy. If a country places its priorities in the right sectors, it can earn billions of dollars through medical tourism.
Patients can only be attracted if they receive healthcare services on priority and at their best. Many medical tourists would also expect great aftercare and follow-up services from medical facilities within a country. If that country is able to serve them accordingly, there can surely be a rise in its medical tourism.
Governments also need to look at comparative pricing strategies so cheaper treatments and healthcare can be provided to the patients. In addition, trade policies should be reviewed so that better medical supplies and equipment can be made available within countries. Ultimately, cost and effective healthcare practices are the major driving forces that lead patients to travel overseas for their treatment. Provisions should be made for proper use of medical tourism technology to facilitate the growth of medical tourism businesses.
However, additional factors, such as the maintenance of a country’s sociopolitical condition and management of its internal stability, also contribute to the overall tourism it gets from medical visitors. Thus, boosting medical tourism can also affect a country’s own economy in a positive manner.
How can medical tourism save public healthcare-wary Americans from Obamacare?
For a better part of the last 100 years, the US has been at the forefront of the capitalist world. In fact, the economic setup of the country has enabled it to position itself at the forefront of the world economy. However, the recent “amendments” to the country’s healthcare system aka Obamacare may lead American citizens away from the country’s medical setup entirely.
Faced with the burden of providing free healthcare to a rapidly growing population of retirees, Obamacare’s critics claim that the new health care policies will only make getting medical attention costlier for both insured as well the uninsured citizens in the coming years. Coupled with extremely expensive medical care systems, these policies will only push more and more American citizens to seek free-market health care overseas.
In fact, hoards of American medical tourists are already seeking less medical care in countries like India where even a world-class super speciality hospital only charges roughly $30,000 while the same procedure costs a patient around $160,000 in a local American facility. As a result, medical tourism procedures are proliferating in numbers conducted in state-of-the-art facilities with cutting-edge technology.
The fact that practicing medicine in the U.S. is also becoming increasingly bogged down by legal and bureaucratic hassles also means that specialists, both nationals as well as expats, are taking up positions with medical tourism providers abroad leading to a brain drain trend that is quickly emerging in the country.
Another key factor that is driving medical tourists out of the U.S. is the fact that FDA moves approval for newly developed techniques very slowly. A good example of this would be the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing procedure that was invented in 1991 by a British surgeon by wasn’t approved by the FDA until 2006.
As America moves further away from free market health care and Obamacare makes it harder and less cost effective for citizens to seek healthcare in the country, middle- and lower- class patients who desperately need to save money on medical treatments are actively using medical tourism to get the care they need abroad.
And the international healthcare and medical tourism industry is taking note of the fallout from Obamacare too as an increasing number of medical facilities located throughout the third world are seeking and getting approval from the Joint Commission International which is the international accreditation agency for institutions offering medical tourism.
For the medical tourism industry, the implications of Obamacare mean that a country like Turkey can pay something like $100,000 for preferential branding at a medical tourism industry conference in the US and get around $3.5 billion medical tourism revenue in a single year! Other destinations are not wasting time but putting their efforts in medical tourism marketing and branding strategies to pull foreign customers.
Americans making huge savings by getting surgeries abroad
Medical tourism has been saving a lot of money for Americans, whether they are uninsured or completely covered under medical insurance policies. This is the unanimous opinion of medical tourism facilitators and providers.This is because they are getting their expensive surgeries done abroad in minimal costs.
Several medical tourism destinations all over the world offer high-quality medical services and facilities at much lower costs that the United States offers. Healthcare costs are huge when it comes to American states. The specialty treatment or surgery especially costs a lot in the U.S. Thus, many of the American patients are looking for specific medical tourism procedures and surgeries beyond their home country.
Whether it is a hip replacement surgery or cosmetic procedure, Americans are getting it all done in other developing nations where the medical procedures are cost-effective. In addition, they are treated at some of the best medical facilities in the world.
Even if they have an insurance cover within their own country, they prefer to travel abroad for availing high-quality healthcare and aftercare services. Growing medical tourism facilitators are providing them with all information along with making necessary arrangements for the abroad medical care trip.
However, nearly 47 million Americans do not carry any sort of insurance policy. Thus, it becomes the last and the best option for them to travel to countries like Singapore, India, South Korea, Thailand or Malaysia for taking medical treatments. Since healthcare costs are crossing boundaries in the United States, it is not difficult to imagine the huge costs involved in getting surgical procedures done.
In such cases, patients who do not have a coverage and are badly suffering from some physical ailments do not have a choice to keep waiting for treatment in their home country. Instead, they choose to go for medical tourism that can bring them a new life at easy costs. Many of the underinsured residents of the United States might also face similar problems when it is about elective procedures. Their insurance covers might not offer them the facility to get complex surgeries done.
In all such cases, these people hugely benefit by going for medical tourism. Major healthcare procedures done abroad could bring about 60 to 70 percent of cost savings to them. In addition, highly skilled and professionally trained surgeons who are renowned in their medical fields perform these surgeries.
Patients on medical tourism also benefit by receiving immediate care without any waiting time. It is also quite convenient to travel abroad, as most of the medical and travel requirements of a patient are taken care by the medical tourism advisor or facilitator they hire. Even if they include all their travel and lodging costs in medical expenses, the treatment still comes out to be cheaper to them.
Challenges and implications that arise from Medical Tourism
According to expert medical tourism consultants and advisors, when a top trend turns into a prosperous industry within a span of few years, it becomes necessary to study it closely from different angles. The first question that comes to the mind is why medical tourism has become so important all of a sudden. Unless there is a detail analysis and understanding of the factors, one cannot make medical tourism business sustainable. Superficial medical tourism marketing however attractive it seems to be will not be effective.
Even in ancient times, the rich and affluent used to travel to hot springs and sanatoria. In the present era, it is the middle class and upper middle class citizens of developed First World countries, who are traveling for medical treatments. Medical tourism is an opportunity for the Third World countries to improve their economy and develop their internal infrastructure. A detailed study will reveal more.
Government support and medical market
There is nothing wrong in offering a service and demanding money in return. It has been the practice from time immemorial. Still, the way medical facilities have been turned into products can make one wonder. Is it all aimed towards medical tourism business at the cost of local healthcare services? But these have a better prospect as well apart from the commercial perspective. At present, the governments of around 50 countries are supporting medical tourism. They are all actively trying to persuade more foreigners to visit their countries for getting treatments.
Some of the top players of medical tourism industry are Malaysia, India, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and South Korea. The medical tourism providers let patients choose their destinations and negotiate prices. The hospitals are trying to cater to the various needs of medical tourists to make their stay more satisfying.
Safety is one of the main concerns
Initially the patients of developed countries were not sure about traveling abroad, especially to the Third World Countries for treatments. Technology, however, has pitched in to help. Development of information technology has enabled patients to check the information offer by medical tourism facilitators. Many foreigners now talk to doctors and hospital authorities before finalizing travel decisions. The advent of latest medical tourism technology is further facilitating cross border consultations and treatments to the utmost satisfaction of patients.
Video conferencing by using apps like Skype is a commonplace thing these days. Patients should check if hospitals have Joint Commission International or JCI accreditation before choosing a medical tourism destination.
JCI accreditation is a mark of excellence, which gives hospitals more credibility. Several hospitals in Singapore and India have received JCI accreditation, which makes them trustworthy in the eyes of foreigners.
The public might have to suffer
As private hospitals are giving more importance to the foreign patients, who are comparatively richer, the citizens of Third World Countries have to suffer. Several private hospitals have separate wards only for the foreign patients. The amount of attention doctors shower on them is also on the verge of being unethical.
Another important consideration is how the money earned from medical tourism industry is utilized for the development of the country and its people. For developing the healthcare infrastructure of a country, the citizens have to pay taxes. If medical tourism is generating huge sums of revenue for Third World countries, at least part of it should be used for infrastructural improvement.
Consider both the benefits and risks
For affluent patients, medical tourism is an adventure. They are interested in visiting a new, exotic country like India, Singapore or Thailand. Medical tourism is giving them the opportunity to save money on medical treatments and enjoy a vacation in a popular tourist spot. Medical tourists from developed countries usually save up to 50% by opting for surgeries and treatments abroad.
But, while considering medical tourism you will also have to remember the risks. Ethically or technically wrong medical practices can put the health and safety of medical tourists at danger. Organ transplantation surgeries are in vogue. This is increasing human trafficking and medical malpractices. Patients should get their treatments only from ethical and transparent medical care facilitators.
Medical tourism is a blooming industry supported by the government of several countries. Medical tourists should be cautious about picking hospitals and destinations for their own safety.
What are the safety issues in Medical Tourism?
People today travel a lot for getting the best medical treatment they can beyond their home country borders. Governments in many developing nations have promoted their medical facilities extensively, as a means of attracting tourists. So, the critical question is, how safe is this Medical Tourism?It is the duty of both the medical tourists and medical tourism facilitators to have a check on safety issues. In this medical tourism destination guide, we have highlighted specific issues to help both the patient and providers.
Most of these medical tourism sites offer services at a low cost in order to attract patients. As the regulations are lax in some of these countries, there is every chance that these services maybe of a substandard quality.
The presence of inferior quality medical care exists in the most developed nations as well. As the rivalry for attracting more and more patients is increasing, each of these hospitals is being forced to either provide superior medical facilities or offer low-cost incentive. The latter option by far seems more convenient to many and hence many of these hospital sites are prone to offering substandard service.
It is critical to check the standard of a particular hospital before actually traveling to avail the facilities. The doctoral staff’s qualifications and reputation of the hospital plays a key role under this tab. Presence of Internet greatly helps in this aspect as it becomes easier to get information in a fairly convenient way. Many review websites provide quality information on the quality of healthcare provided by various hospitals across the globe.
Accreditation of facilities
Accreditation of the medical facilities also plays a minor yet significant role. If the Hospital is accredited, it is likely that the facilities existing in the Hospital are of a high standard. As international accreditation is rare in most cases, national level accreditation must be the minimum criteria. Some reputed agencies such as the Joint Commission International provides a good basis for judging hospitals across the globe. However, accreditation, be it international or domestic; doesn’t guarantee that the facilities existing at a particular location are entirely excellent.
As Medical Tourism involves traveling to an unknown land for high quality services at a lower price, safety risk always persists. Safe bet is always to opt for countries that are renowned for their excellent healthcare facilities and then look out for good hospitals in this area.
Understanding the risk of terrorism in Medical Tourism
Medical tourism, of late, is a significant contributor toward a nation’s economic growth. It brings in foreign currency and generates employment as well. In 21st century tourism sector, medical, wellness and health tourism occupy a major portion in terms of the quantum of revenue they bring in. However, medical tourism had been running on treacherous grounds these days as it has to face many challenges. The most threatening and damaging of them all is the threat of terrorism.
The arsonists gang up against this growing industry being fully aware of its high growth potential. Western world and many Islamic countries had experienced mass casualty attacks by terrorists through open shooting in public places painting a dreadful picture. Since medical tourism handles critical issues like providing a solution to life threatening ailments, the position of this industry is vulnerable to external menace. Terrorist activities compel medical tourists to think twice before setting abroad for medical tourism.
Medical and wellness tourism are among more sustainable types of tourism which cater to the needs of a broad range of customer age group including the seniors as well. Every effort should be made on the part of the government as well as those who are linked with medical tourism to see that this promising sector survives in the face of terrorist inspired jeopardy.
Countries active in terrorist attacks in 2015
The following list offers an alarming picture of terrorist assault stats which can enhance in 2016 if proper preventive measures are not adopted. Of these India, Turkey and Thailand are hot medical tourism destinations. Though these countries rank fairly low in terrorist activities, proper steps should be taken to curb the existing demon before the situation goes out of control.
Medical tourism under the shade of terrorism
The monster of global terrorism has spread its wings and is hulking in malicious intent to harm the sector of tourism and infect the tourists with the seed of panic and confusion. Medical tourism is likely to be the worst affected and the victims are defenseless.
For other types of tourism like ecotourism and cultural tourism, the customers can avoid a terrorist attack simply by not going abroad on a tour. This is however not the case with medical tourists. When you need to go abroad for a critical treatment which you cannot get in your own country, staying at home fearing a terrorist attack implies nearing to death slowly.
Ever since Islamic militants sprayed bullets on the holidaying tourists in Tunisia in June 2015, there had been a heightened alarm from every government asking tourists to refrain from going abroad especially to the North African and the Middle East Asian countries.
Last year there has been an announcement by the US government warning American tourists against overseas voyages owing to continuous assaults by terrorists upon American citizens. Consequently, there had been a fall in the number of American tourist visits all over the world.
Just like in Tunisia there had been spurts of terrorist-backed violence with their sporadic eruption across the globe. Counties like Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and many others have been the breeding grounds for Islamic terrorists. Their targets are the easiest preys where the medical tourists ideally fit the bill.
Consequently, a drop in revenue generated from medical tourism has badly hit the economy of most sought-after destinations that need a serious ponder.
Countries with the best medical technology now affected by terrorism
Terrorism has affected the global tourism scenario. Some of the nations which were thought to be a hotspot tourist destination have lost their luster for repeated terrorist attacks.
Few years back, Turkey had been a paradise for tourists seeking medical tourism. The qualified doctors, medical teams and a world class medical infrastructure had made it awesomely popular with medical tourists. However, terrorism, civil war and religion-based strife had turned this nation unsafe for medical tourism.
Not only Turkey, the lease of global terror has struck other nations too. Countries like Russia, Syria, Kurdistan and many others have experienced serious terrorist assaults which resulted in a steep downward trend in medical tourist visit in the recent years.
How much does Medical Tourism really cost?
According to studies conducted by the Medical Tourism Association (MTA), the number of Americans going out of their countries for medical tourism each year has been on a rise in the last decade. Good news for medical tourism facilitators, providers, and consultants.
Let us have a study of the numbers:
- According to the American Journal of Medicine, an estimated 750,000 people from the US travelled to other countries for medical care.
- Over 1.4 million Americans sought healthcare services in different countries in 2017.
- In 2017, the number of medical tourists in the world was estimated to be 14-16 million.
- The number of medical tourists from the US and other parts of the world is expected to grow by 25% every year.
- Average spending for each medical tourist per visit is estimated to be $3800-6000 in cash.
- Total spending by global medical tourists every year is estimated to be $45-72 billion.
- The total valuation of global medical tourism business every year is around $439 billion.
- According to recent data from OECD, there are nearly 50 million medical tourists all over the world.
The major driving force behind some people taking up medical tourism is their insufficient coverage or complete lack of medical coverage. Besides this, some other people cannot simply afford the high healthcare costs in America.
Even some celebrities are contributing to medical tourism, as they do not have their desired treatments available within the country. Although medical tourism is taken up because it offers high-quality treatment at cheaper rates, check out what the real cost of some treatments comes out to be when these are taken abroad.
Heart Bypass Surgery
Expert medical tourism consultants and guides will suggest that you should go under the knife at a location close to your home. Thus, Americans have a good option in Costa Rica, Mexico, and other Latin American countries. Besides this, if cost is the major factor operating for you, India also offers great options for heart bypass surgery. This country has various Joint Commission International (JCI)-accredited hospitals that provide high-quality care to cardiac patients. Americans mostly go to Wockhardt or Apollo Hospitals in India where U.S.-trained surgeons operate on them.
When it comes to the comparative cost of a heart bypass surgery in these countries, you would see that there is a far difference from the U.S. While this surgery costs about $144,000 in the U.S., it merely costs $25,000 in Costa Rica. To make it far more affordable, India offers it at merely $5,200. Isn’t medical tourism offering a huge saving?
As not all insurance companies in the U.S. cover this weight loss surgery, you might find a better option in countries like Mexico. The doctors in Mexico are well trained to perform gastric bypass surgery, but you should be cautious about receiving aftercare.
Comparing the costs, you might need to spend around $33,000 in the U.S. for this surgery, while it can be done at one-third of this price in Mexico. You should be in touch with reputed medical tourism destination guides, facilitators, and providers to know the cost details.
If you are a candidate for dental treatments or implants, any medical tourism consultant or advisor will recommend Hungary as the first choice.
For similar quality treatments at cheaper rates, you could also consider Mexico as a nearby option. While the cost of a dental implant in Hungary is a little more than $1,000, it is available at around $1,800 in Mexico. However, both are found better than spending $2,800 in the U.S.
Innumerable options are available when it comes to getting the private jobs of facelift or breast implant to be done. This is the most popular medical tourism procedure availed by medical tourists.Various plastic surgery options are available at destinations like Costa Rica, Brazil, Columbia, etc. You will get ample information in our medical tourism destination guides specific to a country. You can be treated at accredited medical facilities and attended by good doctors.
While a facelift can cost you about $5,000 to $6,000 in Columbia or Costa Rica, you will have to spend thrice this amount in the U.S. More expensive is the breast implant that would cost you around $2,500 in Columbia, $3,800 in Costa Rica, and $10,000 in the U.S.
Lasik Eye Surgery
A large number of people take up medical tourism for getting Lasik eye surgery done. While it seems that there is a major price difference in getting this surgery done abroad, it really would not matter when you consider the overall treatment and travel costs.
However, you may consider checking out the nice destinations of Prague and Mexico if you are also interested in some travel. The cost of this surgery for both eyes would be around $2,400 in Czech Republic, $2,000 in Mexico, and $4,400 in the U.S.
Now, you may evaluate your options and see which procedures are more cost-effective to be taken abroad. Remember, the price may deviate from the provided numbers. We recommend to contact reputed medical tourism facilities or providers to know the actual price.
Why medical tourism needs education and awareness efforts?
It would be surprising to know that people opting for medical treatments beyond the home soil were in vogue even thousands of years ago. They gathered information from their friends, relatives, community, and medical practitioners. There were no organized medical tourism facilitators or guides to help them make a better choice.
Sophisticated treatments, at that period, were yet to invade the healthcare market in a large scale as we see today. Neither there were huge commercialization and marketing efforts to promote specialized treatments.
Laudable breakthroughs in medical science have enhanced the average life expectancy across the globe enabling many to lead a better quality of life and therefore, the world has been experiencing the surge of medical tourism.
With more and more countries getting into a competition to tap the benefits of this niche market with all resources at hand, medical tourism today has transformed into a complex industry where lack of authentic information and proper education can spell disaster on precious lives and ruin the humanitarian aspect of the medical services.
Need for awareness and education:
This is important from both the perspectives of patients and medical tourism facilitators. Lack of proper medical care and support for specialized treatments in the home soil necessitate medical tourism; high cost and long queuing lists being other vital factors.
Typical treatments like joint replacement, cardio vascular surgeries, dental surgeries and cosmetic surgeries are way too complicated involving special procedures which are not only prohibitive in an American clinic from the cost angle, but these solutions are available in only few countries for which a lot of exploration needs to be undertaken.
One needs to find out which countries have the best expertise in those specific ailments and the costs involved. This will demand proper awareness of the customer. He should be able to access the right information channel and prepare himself accordingly for a medical trip abroad.Inadequate or half-baked knowledge does not bode well for medical tourism businesses as well.
Awareness in other areas
This not only demands the knowledge of the right kind of clinic available with a particular country to treat a particular disease but also calls for a thorough knowledge of the following factors:
- Availability of a trustworthy medical tourism facilitator.
- Logistics available and the cost involved which is likely to be incurred on local transportation and flight.
- Availability of accommodation and the likely expenses.
- Legal scenario and to what extent local regulation would be supportive of your healthcare mission.
- The foreign exchange scenario.In view of the current demonetization policy of Indian government, a lot of foreign patients were thrown into acute trouble.
Vacation and medical treatment combo
Weighing the pros and cons of medical tourism, people are willing to combine healthcare with a relaxing vacation. This great idea quite often inspires patients to plan a medical trip to countries blessed with sun bathed exquisite beaches, breathtaking mountains and scenic landscapes.
Countries like India, Thailand, Malaysia, Iran and Turkey are blessed with breath taking sea beaches and panoramic view of nature that are aesthetically pleasing to the Westerners’ eyes.Patients and medical tourism facilitators or providers need to have a detailed info on the offerings available that would be a win-win situation for both
Shortcomings in medical tourism – Things to check:
Easier said than done,one should be aware of the shortcomings of medical tourism. There are indeed genuine benefits in medical tourism but they come with certain practical demerits as well.
Transparency in information
There is a lack of transparency regarding the availability of proper information to provide proper guidance to a medical tourist. International data on medicinal practitioners are although available on different websites, but they do not guarantee how far they are sacrosanct. Whether their capabilities could properly address a specific health disorder is still an enigma.
Marketing hype to build the reputation of doctors and clinics for that matter is rampant. Often clinics fail to deliver what they promise, and this puts the medical tourists in utter distress.
Many clinics are straight out of the coverage of insurance companies making treatment expensive for users.Industrial cannibalism, taxonomical issues and brand awareness within the medical tourism industry are other elements of threat posing a challenge to this industry.
Yet, another serious feature is the risk of being vulnerable to infections while travelling from one country to another. You come in contact with fellow passengers from different countries. You never know what disease he or she is carrying.
Cross-cultural issues often put medical tourist as well as the healthcare providers in difficult situations. It is better to educate yourself about the culture and etiquettes of the destination country before boarding the flight. Else unexpected situations can put your medical tourism venture in jeopardy.
Language barrier is another significant issue. If your doctor doesn’t understand your problems, neither of you can get across each other. The quality of a language translator, if at all available, is again open to question.
If the presentation of your medical problem goes through wrong hands, your treatment is bound to suffer.Lack of authentic information is probably the most serious issue of all. It leads to a loss of time, money and efforts, and on a grave note can lead to death of the medical tourist.There are signs that medical tourism facilitators and providers are taking care to ease communication obstacles for international patients.
How medical travel works great for tourists?
Casual tourists and expats might seem like unlikely companions, but in the world of medical tourism, they may both get the better end of the deal by mixing their planned medical activities with their vacation, or in the case of expats, the long due visit to the home country.
Tourists getting the best by mixing health with travel
When you receive quality healthcare treatment in a foreign land, you often get enough time to rest and recover. This gives people another good reason to opt for medical treatment – meaning recuperating while having fun. Medical tourism also offers potential patients a chance to recover in a relaxing atmosphere.
After a treatment, medical procedure or a surgery, the patients need to relax and take enough time to rest to not only recover fast but also have long positive health effects of treatment. This makes them opt for medical tourism than seeking healthcare at home.
A recent study affirms that a patient in an atmosphere away from home – preferably at a tourist destination or a new place – recovers quicker and better. The reason being, a patient gets some good moments on a tourist destination abroad and gets more time to focus on his health. This makes the healing process quicker for a patient on a foreign land than in his native country. Anyone and everyone will love it.
Expats head home for medical treatment
Then there are people who love to travel back to their home country for a treatment. There is no specific reason/logic for such people opting for medical tourism back at home but only the fact that they feel at ease in their homeland and a visit will give them an opportunity to meet their relatives and family members.
According to leading medical tourism consultants and guides, it is common for expats traveling to their home countries for medical treatments. This has been more pronounced in Caribbean and Latin American destinations.
However, people residing in foreign countries opt for medical tourism, in most of the cases, in emergencies. They choose traveling to their home country only in conditions wherein they are familiar with healthcare system available in their country. Most of the patients plan to travel their home country during their annual leave and spend less money on treatments that otherwise would have cost them more.
For example, Indians – non-residing or citizens – living in US would prefer traveling to India for a heart surgery or for heart valve transplant than spending 10 times or even more to what they would pay in India.
Another benefit may fall their way if they already know the doctor/s back at home. In such a case, they would get personalized care. In doing so, they would also get care from their friends, relatives and family members. They can arrange things required for a procedure and surgery far more conveniently in their native country. Another potential reason why expats love traveling back to their homeland for various treatments is the fact that they don’t face any language and cultural barriers.
What is the effect of healthcare reform on medical tourism industry?
The medical tourism industry has developed and flourished in the past few years due to affordability issues faced by patients in the developed countries. In the beginning, medical tourism used to scare people but now millions of Americans are flocking to the developing countries for getting medical treatment.
The underlying reason is definitely the fact that price of medicines, checkups, health tests and surgeries are very high in the US and other developed nations. The health care reforms were believed to be the only method of turning the scenario around and facilitating affordable treatment for citizens inside the country itself.
Failed health reform laws
The high hopes seem to be crashed as the health care scenario has not changed much in the past few years, though laws have been passed. It seems that in the coming years medical tourism will become a more stable and prominent industry.
The healthcare reforms have not served its original purpose but it has increased the costs of health insurances for younger generations. Though the general prospects seem murky, the retired may benefit from the medical schemes or insurance coverage.
The healthcare reforms in the US mandate that citizens have to get health insurance for themselves. At first it was feared that people might not choose medical tourism as often as they used to because of the insurance coverage they will get.
After some time, it became clear that maintaining insurance has done nothing better than pressurizing citizens who need to save money for running their households and sending their kids to college.
Why medical tourism became an obvious choice?
The huge amount of money that an individual can save by opting for medical tourism is unbelievable. The total cost of a heart bypass surgery in the US is an estimated $100,000 whereas the same surgery will cost something around $10,000 to $20,000 in the hospitals of India, Thailand and Singapore.
No one can overlook the financial benefit that medical tourism offers and that’s exactly why the prospects of this industry seem brighter than ever. Companies which have offices in different developed and developing countries are going to help in the development of medical tourism.
They can get their employees travel from US and other developed countries to the developing countries where they have offices. The health reform related financial crisis can be only solved with the help of medical tourism. With so many people, who have now come under health insurance coverage, the waiting time for getting treatments will increase. To get speedy and timely medical care, more people will turn towards medical tourism.
Medical tourism has emerged in a bigger manner than expected as more destinations jumped the bandwagon with unique offerings catering to a specific segment. It is expected that the rising global healthcare challenges will create better opportunities. People will need quality treatment on time. And if beyond the border options gets more accessible, thanks to the emerging destinations and rapid advancements, then why not get it now?