What is Medical Tourism?

By | March 28, 2017

Medical Tourism refers to traveling of patients from home country to another destination for the purpose of receiving treatment. In some ways, medical tourism is nothing new. As far back as the Romans, people traveled from their home to places such as spas that offered healing treatment.

Today, however, medical tourism is big business, with millions of people on the move across the globe to access treatment. Affordable treatment costs and lack of infrastructure in some cases are the main reasons behind such moves.

Why do people opt for medical tourism?

People might choose to travel outside their home country for a number of reasons, depending on the state of the health service at home and medical condition. These reasons include:

  • Lower costs – treatments abroad can often be found at a fraction of the price.
  • Lack of medical insurance – medical tourism offers an affordable alternative to expensive private healthcare costs and to rising private medical insurance premiums.
  • Lack of Infrastructure – Some Asian and African citizen opt for medical tourism due to lack of established infrastructure and medical specialists at home.
  • No waiting –In some countries waiting is a huge deal, but by traveling you can get treatment significantly sooner.
  • New treatments – some medical tourism destinations offer treatments that may not be available, or accessible, at home.
  • Specialist services – many medical tourism destinations specialize in their fields, such as dentistry or cosmetic surgery.

Where do people go for medical tourism?

Depending on the geographic locations, you can choose any available destination in your continent for medical tourism purpose. In general, medical tourism happens between developed countries and developing countries. For example, some British and other Western Europeans travel to lower cost European countries and emerging, former Soviet states. Americans and Canadians travel to Mexico and Latin America and people from across the world travel to the medical tourism hot-spots of Thailand, Singapore, India,  and Malaysia. If you are funding your treatment privately, you can choose to go anywhere in the world.

What treatments can you travel for?

While medical tourism originated for simple procedures, such as cosmetic surgery and dentistry, these days you can get almost any treatment abroad, including complex cardiovascular work, extensive orthopedics like hip or knee replacements and intricate fertility treatment.

As providers invest in the very best facilities and equipment to attract more business, both the standard and range of treatments on offer are growing rapidly. In many countries, the government actively supports the medical tourism market in order to boost tourism and enhance the medical facilities for their own people.