A compilation of some medical tourism statistics, which puts forth an accurate picture of the ongoing boom in this industry. Continue reading….
The global medical tourism industry is all set to reach the $100 billion mark in 2012, with more and more people from developed nations, such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom, traveling abroad to avail relatively inexpensive health care facilities available there. There is no doubt about the fact that this has been a significant rise from the $40 billion worth that this industry was back in 2004. Medical tourism is now considered a full-fledged industry in around 50 countries of the world. All this information highlights the boom phase that this industry is experiencing today, while the trend suggests that this boom phase will continue in the years to come.
Simply put, the term ‘medical tourism’ refers to the practice of traveling abroad to obtain health care. The term was coined by media and travel agencies across the globe, when people began to go abroad to opt for medical procedures. The trend shows that most of the people from developed nations like the United States wherein the cost of living is high, travel to developing nations like India to obtain health care as it is relatively inexpensive in these countries. The list of medical procedures, which are catered under the concept of medical tourism is quite lengthy, and includes procedures like dental treatment, cosmetic surgery, heart surgery, orthopedics treatment, fertility treatment, etc.
While the reasons for traveling abroad exist in plenty, the most prominent reason is that these medical procedures are relatively inexpensive in other parts of the world. As people don’t bother to opt for health care insurance in the first place, medical procedures become all the more costly for them, and this in turn, prompts them to go abroad wherein the same procedures are less expensive. Other than expenditure, legal and ethical issues also play a crucial role in people opting for medical procedures abroad. If organ donation is considered illegal or unethical in some country, the resident of that country is likely to travel to some another country wherein the same is legal and ethical when organ transplant is the only lifesaving measure that he is left with. Internet boom and cheap air fares have also contributed to the rise in medical tourism. The fact that countries have begun promoting medical tourism is not at all surprising as it adds to the national income of these countries by boosting tourism and other related industries.
Statistics on Medical Tourism
Even though it is very difficult to compile statistics on medical tourism, the estimated figures in themselves speak in volumes about the boom phase that it is being subjected to. Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand which was renowned for its scenic beauty all this while, has become quite popular in the field of medical tourism now with several medical facilities here boasting of U.S. accreditation. Similarly, most of the surgeons working in Bumrundgrad International Hospital in Bangkok, which is a leading destination for such tourists, boast of board certification from the United States. That explains why people prefer to opt for Thailand when it comes to health care.
The statistical data on medical tourism in India suggests that most of the medical procedures in India cost approximately 20 percent of what they would cost in the United States. For instance, a heart-valve replacement, which will cost somewhere around $200,000 in the United States, costs $10,000 in India. While US$10,000 is by no means a small sum, the amount of money you are likely to save by opting for this procedure in India does matter. India has become the destination for people opting for the treatment of orthopedic and cardiovascular problems of late. It is expected that medical tourism will add $2.2 billion to the national income of the country annually from 2012.
The lengthy list of countries wherein medical tourism has emerged as one of the most flourishing industry over the last few years includes Asian countries like India, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, etc., Latin-American nations like Brazil, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, etc., as well as European and African nations like Turkey, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and South Africa. If you are to opt for health care in Panama, the total cost incurred will be 50-70 percent less than what you will have to pay in the United States depending on which medical procedure you opt for. In countries like Hungary, Brazil, Singapore, etc., you are likely to save somewhere around 40-50 percent of the total expenditure incurred on various treatment options in the United States.
Even though these statistics put forth a pleasant picture of medical tourism, it has also been under the scanner for its negative effects. Its critics often argue that it is not a healthy practice as the infrastructure in developing nations is not at par with that of developed nations. Some also argue that the practice of people flocking abroad for health care has its negative effects on the medical sector and economy of the country.
However, those in favor of medical tourism refute these claims sighting that the practice is also popular in countries like Singapore, which boast of best health care in the world. They also add that the modern facilities offered in developing countries are at par excellence – an argument which is aptly backed by the pioneering standards set in the field of biotechnology research by developing countries like India.