Medical Tourism: What I need to know about it?

Posted by pqseo14 on October 24th, 2014

What Is Medical Tourism?

Medical tourism is also often referred to as health tourism. Medical tourism is the travel people make from one country to another in order to obtain medical services. Conventionally, people used to travel to developed countries from less developed countries to get medical treatment which may or may not have been offered in their own country.  Today, the picture has changed drastically; mostly, people from developed countries now fly to less developed countries to get medical treatments because they cost them less, however the traditional pattern still continues. One more reason for medical tourism is because some treatments may not be legal in home countries but they may be legal in other counties, for instance, some of the fertility treatments and procedures.

Medical tourism is used for the purpose of attaining medical surgeries and treatments. There are many people who opt for medical tourism for dental and fertility related medical procedures. Individuals with unusual genetic disorders also travel to another country where treatment of such conditions is better understood. Medical tourism facilitates practically all types of health care, such as psychiatry, substitute treatments, convalescent care and also the burial services.

The History of Medical Tourism

Dating back to thousands of years, the very first recorded instance of medical tourism was when from all over the Mediterranean, Greek pilgrims travelled to Epidauria (small territory in the Saronic Gulf) to obtain medical assistance. This region was supposedly the sanctuary of the god of healing, Asklepios.

The early form of medical tourism might include spa towns and sanitariums. For instance, in 18th century in England, patients used to visit spas because they were considered to be the places with purportedly health giving mineral waters, usually used for treating diseases such as gout, liver disorders and bronchitis.

The Description of Medical Tourism

The rising cost of health care, longer waiting time for many of the medical procedures, the ease of international travel and advancement in technology and health care business in many countries has increased the popularity of medical tourism. The leading factor of medical tourism from the United Kingdom is the long waiting time, and from the United States it is the expensive health care services in the country.

Many of the surgical procedures undertaken in medical tourism destinations cost a fraction of the price they do in the first world countries. For instance: a liver transplant which costs USD 300,000 in America costs around USD 91,000 in Taiwan. One of the biggest attractions of medical tourism is the convenience and speed. Long waiting time is mostly an issue with the countries that operate public health-care systems. For example: In the year 2005, approximately 782,936 Canadians spent time on medical waiting lists with an average waiting time of 9.4 weeks. For this, Canada has set a waiting time for different procedures, such as, 26 weeks for a hip replacement procedure and 16 weeks for cataract surgery.

Medical tourism entertains tourists from different locations which includes; Europe, the Middle East, Japan, the United States, and Canada. Population size, comparatively higher wealth levels, higher expenses of health care and/ or lack of local health care options are the factors which drive the demand for medical tourism in the first world countries.

In United States and the other first world countries, medical tourism has large growth prospects and potentially destabilizing issues. A prediction by Deloitte Consulting which was published in August 2008 anticipated that medical tourism initiating in the United States could jump up by a factor of ten, over the next ten years. In 2007 approximately 750,000 Americans went abroad to get health care services and the report anticipated that about 1.5 million US nationals would obtain health care services outside America in coming years. The upward trend of medical tourism in United States can cost the local health care providers over billions of dollars in lost revenue.

It is reported that the trend of medical tourism is more is more in the United Kingdom as compared to the United States and it is promoted very heavily in the United Kingdom.

Another factor which is contributing to the medical tourism is that many of the patients in the first world counties are finding out that their insurance policies do not cover orthopedic surgery (For example: knee/hip replacement) and at times it also limits the choice of the medical facility, physician/ surgeon, or the type of prosthetics to be used.

World famous medical tourism destinations include countries like: Israel, MalaysiaMexico, Costa Rica, IndiaThailand, Turkey, United States, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan. Other destination countries for cosmetic surgery are Belgium, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and South Africa.

Most popular destination for all types of cosmetic surgeries include: Turkey, Thailand and Ukraine, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Argentina. As per “Sociedad Boliviana de Cirugia Plastica y Reconstructiva”, over more than 70% of middle and upper class women in the country have had plastic surgery in one form or another.

Few people opt for medical tourism to have assisted pregnancy, for instance: in-vitro fertilization, surrogacy, freezing embryos for retro-production, etc.

However, people remain shaky about opting for medical tourism. In countries like the United States of America, having high standards of quality, medical tourism is viewed as being risky. In other counties of the world, wider political concerns in the countries offering medical tourism facilities can influence the medical tourists.

Medical tourism providers have developed associations with some intermediaries which bring together potential medical tourists and provider hospitals plus other linked organizations. Institutions which focus on medical value travel normally offer nurse case managers to help out patients with pre and post-travel medical concerns. They can also facilitate in providing resources for follow up care upon the return of the patient.

Read more at:

Medical TourismMedical Tourism in IndiaDental TourismMedical Travel. Medical Tourism in Thailand

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Joined: October 13th, 2014
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