Medical tourism or medical travel, health tourism or global healthcare are all terms of an interesting phenomenon that owes itself to the increasing globalization of the world, to travel and communication becoming ever easier and less expensive.
The easy dissemination of accurate and detailed information available on the internet adds to this phenomenon.
Medical tourism takes advantage of the fact that skilled medical practitioners and quality hospitalization is available in other countries at a fraction of what it would cost in one’s own country.
Surgeries that would be very expensive at home may be performed thousands of miles from home and may turn out cheaper even when you factor in the travel and other expenses.
Health tourism also offers one the chance of getting to see an exotic location perhaps for the first time.
To put it another way, if one requires to have a bypass surgery, perhaps they can get it done in India and go see the Taj Mahal while they are at it!
There are several factors that contribute to the rise of medical tourism, such as:
- Rising costs of health care in many countries, particularly developed and western nations, have made certain procedures prohibitively expensive and therefore out of reach for many
- There is a decided resource crunch in medical services in many areas; if it isn’t high costs, it is long periods of waiting to have certain procedures performed
- Whereas health care costs have risen, the costs of traveling abroad have not risen as much. Travelling abroad is becoming more and more accessible to an ever increasing number of people
- Add to this the fact that in several of the less advanced countries the quality of medical care offered is of a quite high quality, the doctors and healthcare providers often having trained in some of the best institutions. Standards of health care have dramatically improved in many of these destinations.
Consider the fact that the cost of surgery in destinations such as India, Thailand or South Africa can be one-tenth of what it is in the United States or Western Europe, and sometimes even less.
For instance a heart-valve replacement that would cost $200,000 or more in the US, costs just $10,000 in India that is one twentieth the price!
There is an element of risk involved in medical tourism, the standards of care may not be as good, and moreover the standards of accountability nothing like those offered in the country of the person seeking medical tourism.
Some 41 destinations for medical tourism are offered here, ranging from Argentina to Vietnam including destinations such as Guatemala, Lithuania, Serbia, Slovakia, Tunisia and others such as Hong Kong, Israel, Austria, and Germany etc.