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Reasons for the continued rise in medical tourism despite recession

The recession has hit several industries pretty hard, with several of them closing shop due to huge losses. However, there is one particular industry that has remained unaffected by the worldwide recession. The medical tourism industry has remained unfazed by the global side effects of the economic depression, and has in fact, steadily increased over the past few years, thanks to several factors, some of which are given below.


Let’s get a brief overview of what medical tourism actually is. Skyrocketing medical and healthcare costs in countries like the UK and US have started to force the individuals in these countries to opt for healthcare facilities in other parts of the world. And that’s where medical tourism comes into the picture. So let’s take a closer look as to why people opt for these places for their medical treatments.

Budget Constraints

The economic recession has driven a hole through the common man’s pocket. And healthcare costs in the UK and US have literally hit the roof! Added to this are issues related to insurance. Reports have revealed that nearly 120 million US citizens are underinsured while a staggering 47 million of them do not have medical insurance at all.

So the only alternative to settling for a healthcare facility and footing a huge bill without medical insurance to pay it off, is to opt for developing countries like India and Thailand that offer the same medical services for less than half the cost. In certain cases, it was noted that even insured individuals faced the brunt of the expensive healthcare facilities in the UK and US, with some of them actually filing for bankruptcy just because their insurance was not enough to cover their medical expenses.


World Class Accreditation

Many hospitals and healthcare facilities in destinations like India, Thailand and Brazil etc. are accredited with international agencies like the Joint Commission International (responsible for accrediting hospitals in the US).

These facilities contain state of the art infrastructure and medical technology, and offer world class healthcare facilities for individuals opting for these services. The doctors and surgeons in these places are also highly trained and English speaking, thereby making it easier for patients to converse with them.

Health Insurance, Co-Pays and Co-Premiums

The recession has also forced several insurance companies to revisit their guidelines and make changes to existing strategies. Accordingly, many insurance companies have stopped covering full medical treatments, and have switched to co-pays and co-premiums wherein the individual would have to pay some amount towards the insurance amount, usually in the form of monthly installments. The hefty co-pays are budget crunching for certain individuals who find it easier to just travel to another country and get treated for a medical condition, spending only half of the original amount that they would spend in the UK or US. Added to this is the surprising fact that several insurance companies would actually cover travel expenses to these medical tourism destinations.

Experienced Surgeons for Complicated Procedures

Certain medical procedures like cervical disc replacement, hip resurfacing and stem cell treatmentin the UK and US gained FDA approval only a few years back. As such, there is a lack of experienced surgeons who can perform these surgeries in these countries. Surgeons practicing in overseas healthcare facilities are more experienced in these techniques than doctors in the US, thereby making it easier for the patient to receive the best treatment possible for these procedures.

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