Medical tourism is a practice of traveling to different countries to get quality and affordable healthcare services. It is also referred to as global healthcare, health tourism, and medical travel. The term ‘medical tourism’ is a popular form of practice. Today, medical tourism has grown to become an official industry in more than 50 countries.
Why is Medical Tourism Popular?
So, what are the benefits of medical tourism and why do people travel abroad for simple and complex medical procedures? The main factors that encourage medical travel are undoubtedly the high cost of medical care in developed countries like the United States. Most medical travel destinations offer almost one-third the costs of developed countries. This translates into a big liver transplant, or even for a cosmetic surgery procedure Medical Condition.
Another reason is the high cost of medical insurance in western countries which have led to many people not opting for any medical plans. The high unemployment rates in the U.S and other European countries are another major contributing factor. Today, there is no longer afforded health insurance. So, a person not covered by health insurance has very less options other than seeking cheaper treatment elsewhere. As a result, medical travel has gained rapid acceptance and popularity in a short period of time.
Medical Tourism Costs Comparison
Here are some surprising cost comparisons which justify the existence of the medical tourism industry. A liver transplant in the U.S would cost close to whopping $ 300,000, while a person who opts for travel to Taiwan would end up paying just around $ 90,000. This translates into savings of around 70 percent. Similarly, a heart valve replacement costs about $ 10,000 in India, while it costs around $ 200,000 in the United States. Women who plan to undergo complex cosmetic surgery have to spend a fortune in the U.S. In this case, a full facelift in South Africa would cost just around $ 1250 compared to about $ 20,000 in the United States. These glaring price costs are the most important reasons for the huge growth in the medical tourism industry
Pros and Cons of Medical Tourism
Medical travel abroad isn’t just popular because of the cost savings. There are many other benefits too. For example, the waiting times for U.K medical procedures are long and cumbersome. On the other hand, in medical tourism, a patient’s entire procedure is planned and scheduled well in advance. Once the patient arrives in the host country, there is little to no waiting time. Here is another example to illustrate this point. In Canada, during the year 2005, more than 750,000 Canadians had to wait for an average of 9.5 weeks to get their medical procedures done. Canada also sets long waiting benchmarks ranging from 16 to 26 weeks for non-emergency medical procedures such as cataract and hip replacement surgery.
While the medical travel industry has its benefits it also has its share of drawbacks and concerns. For example, a medical tourist can easily be susceptible to many diseases in the host country, where high standards of hygiene may not be available. A person from the United States may have a low level of natural immunity to these diseases. These diseases could almost or complicate existing health conditions. Some of the diseases that can be weakened are recovery from people who are amoebic dysentery, influenza, typhoid, and tuberculosis. Health complications could also arise during travel due to cramped seats in airlines and long distance flights.
Even accredited hospitals in countries like India lack adequate complaint registering policies. These patients are totally dissatisfied with the services offered. There are also many legal and ethical issues involved during organ transplantation in India and China. This is a large-scale illegal purchase of tissues and organs in these countries. Despite these shortcomings, medical travel seems to be the way forward unless countries like the United States can manage drastically or start their medical costs providing medical tourism insurance.
Popular Medical Tourism Destinations
Many simple and complex procedures such as cardiac surgery, hip and knee replacement, dental surgery and cosmetic surgery. For these procedures the most popular medical travel destinations are India, Argentina, Cuba, Hungary, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, The Philippines, Ukraine, Lithuania, and South Korea.