Medical tourism, a trending industry that has a $439 billion market value, 25% annual market growth and currently with 11 million patients/tourists. But besides those numbers and the fact that we know the term medical tourism is used for when a person travels abroad for a specific medical treatment that is either not offered, lacks resources, or is too costly in the patient’s home country, what else do we know about this fast-emerging industry?
The first recorded instance of people traveling to obtain medical treatment dates back thousands of years to the account of Greek pilgrims who traveled from all over the Mediterranean to the small territory in the Saronic Gulf called Epidauria. This territory was the sanctuary of the healing god Asklepios.
Spa towns and sanitariums may be considered an early form of medical tourism. In 18th-century England, for example, patients visited spas because they were places with supposedly health-giving mineral waters, treating diseases from gout to liver disorders and bronchitis.
But in the modern world medical tourism or sometimes called health tourism was traditionally used by people in less developed countries, because the treatments they needed wasn’t provided in their home countries. Though now this phenomenon is more and more used by people in developed countries such as the USA to travel overseas so they can get the same treatment for a cheaper price or to avoid outrageous treatment queues. People in developed countries use this service for various kinds of surgeries, dental or optical treatments. As an example, Germany belongs to the top-notch service providers for oncology, cancer treatment and robotic surgery and several Asian countries are noted for their experience and deft hands for cosmetic surgery.
An Increasing Trend
The factors that heavily influenced the increase of popularity of health tourism in developed countries like US, UK or Canada was the high cost of healthcare, long wait times for certain procedures, the ease and affordability of international travel and improvements in both technology and standards of care in many countries. For example, healthcare in the US is too expensive for many surgical procedures, a liver transplant would set you back $300,000 in the States whereas you can have the same procedure of the same quality in Taiwan for $91,000. Now in countries like UK or Canada the primary reason for people taking advantage of medical tourism is the ridiculous and outrageous waiting times. Countries that operate public health care systems often have long waiting times for certain operations, for example, an estimated 782,936 Canadian patients spent an average waiting time of 9.4 weeks on medical waiting list in 2005. Another reason for the increase in demand for health tourism is that insurances either don’t cover orthopedic procedures or limits the choice of facilities, surgeons or prosthetics that are available to the patient.
Traveling back to health
The typical process is as follows: the person seeking medical treatment abroad contacts a medical tourism provider, who is commonly referred to as a “facilitator”. The facilitator usually requires the patient to provide a medical report, including the nature of ailment, local doctor’s diagnosis, medical history, and may request additional information, such as x-rays or diagnostic testing results. Certified physicians or consultants may advise on the medical treatment or recommend an initial consultation with a specialist. The approximate cost of treatment, the choice of doctor and hospital, expected duration of stay, and logistical information, such as accommodation, ground transportation, and flights are discussed as well. Interestingly, taking into account all expenses on all fronts, patients still are better off financially, which is the reason why medical tourism is developing as such a greatly emerging healthcare concept. The added bonus of seeing another country, and experiencing “the fresh air of somewhere new”, along with a facilitator taking care of the logistical side, is the reason for the 25% annual market growth that was mentioned earlier.
A patient may be asked to pay an upfront deposit for treatment. For those destinations which require a visa, the patient will be given recommendation letters for a medical visa for the relevant embassy. The patient travels to the destination country, where the medical tourism provider may assign a case executive, who takes care of the ground experience, including translation, accommodation, and arranging aftercare. In the cases where patients self-pay for medical treatment, a final treatment bill will be presented upon completion of treatment. If the patient underwent surgery, there may be additional post-operative checks to discharge the patient and deem him or her “fit for flight” for the return home trip.
In conclusion, medical tourism makes financially more sense for the patient, and also there is the added bonus of no waiting lists, which means that you will get your treatment sooner. At the same time you get to take a look at the world in a time where you are not doing well, lifting your spirit and simultaneously getting top-notch medical treatment. You can Inform yourself more about this topic by visiting our website and see the services we offer concerning medical tourism..