Medical tourism is the practise of travelling to various nations in order to obtain high-quality, low-cost healthcare treatments. Global healthcare, health tourism, and medical travel are other terms for it. The media and travel firms coined the phrase “medical tourism” to advertise this type of activity. Medical tourism has now become an official industry in over 50 nations.
What Makes Medical Tourism So Popular?
So, what are the advantages of medical tourism, and why do individuals fly to other countries for basic and major medical procedures? The primary motivator for medical travel is certainly the high expense of medical treatment in wealthy nations such as the United States. Most medical tourism locations provide operations for around one-third the cost of those in industrialised countries. This translates into greater savings for someone who has to undertake a difficult medical operation such as a liver transplant or even cosmetic surgery.
Another cause is the high expense of medical insurance in Western nations, which has resulted in many individuals refusing to enrol in any medical coverage. Another big contributor is the high unemployment rate in the United States and several European nations. Today, millions of individuals are unable to buy health insurance owing to the deterioration of the labour market. As a result, a person who does not have health insurance has little alternatives other than to seek cheaper treatment elsewhere. As a result, medical travel has grown in popularity and acceptance in a short period of time.
Comparison of Medical Tourism Costs
Here are some startling pricing comparisons that demonstrate why the medical tourism business exists. A liver transplant in the United States would cost close to $300,000, but a person travelling to Taiwan would spend only approximately $90,000. This equates to a savings of almost 70%. Similarly, a heart valve replacement in India costs roughly $10,000, whereas it costs around $200,000 in the United States. Women who want to have extensive cosmetic surgery in the United States must spend a lot of money. In this scenario, a full facelift in South Africa would cost roughly $1250, but it would cost over $20,000 in the United States. The most crucial reason for the massive rise in the medical tourism business is the obvious cost savings.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Medical Tourism
Medical tourism overseas is attractive for reasons other than cost savings. There are several other advantages. In the United Kingdom, for example, waiting periods for medical treatments are lengthy and inconvenient. In medical tourism, on the other hand, a patient’s whole operation is planned and booked in advance. There is minimal to no waiting time after the patient arrives in the host nation. Here’s another example to prove my thesis. During the year 2005, more than 750,000 Canadians had to wait an average of 9.5 weeks to have their medical treatments completed.
While there are advantages to medical travel, there are also disadvantages and concerns. A medical tourist, for example, may be vulnerable to a variety of infections in the host nation, where high standards of hygiene may not be accessible. A individual living in the United States may have little to no natural immunity to these illnesses. These disorders have the potential to exacerbate or aggravate pre-existing medical issues. Amoebic dysentery, influenza, typhoid, and TB are some of the disorders that might impede or complicate a person’s recovery. Health issues may emerge during travel as a result of crowded airline seats and long-distance flights.
Even recognised hospitals in nations such as India do not have proper complaint-registration processes. As a result, many people are completely disappointed with the services provided. In addition, there are other legal and ethical difficulties that arise during organ transplantation in India and China. This is largely owing to the widespread unlawful procurement of tissues and organs in these nations. Despite these flaws, medical travel appears to be the way forward unless nations such as the United States can dramatically reduce their medical expenditures or begin giving medical tourism insurance.
Medical Tourism Destinations That Are Popular
Many people are looking for basic as well as sophisticated operations such as heart surgery, hip and knee replacement, dental surgery, and aesthetic surgery. The most common medical travel locations for these treatments are India, Argentina, Cuba, Hungary, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, The Philippines, Ukraine, Lithuania, and South Korea. Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, Turkey, and Colombia all provide high-quality cosmetic surgery at reasonable costs. South American countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Bolivia have been popular destinations for world-class cosmetic surgery in recent years. These nations are home to reputable cosmetic surgeons who are both talented and experienced. The majority of medical tourists come from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Japan.
Consequences for the Healthcare Industry
Medical tourism has had ramifications in the nations from where it originated. More than 750,000 Americans sought healthcare treatments outside the nation in 2007, and more than 1.5 million are likely to do so in 2008. As a result, the US health-care business has lost billions of dollars and is expected to lose substantially more in the future. According to a 2008 Deloitte Consulting research, medical tourism in the United States might more than double in the next decade. This is a concerning trend that the healthcare sector cannot afford to ignore.
While this may cause problems for the healthcare insurance sector, it may also serve as a motivator for the industry to cut premiums in order to remain competitive. This significant trend toward medical tourism has paved the way for medical tourism insurance. Currently, only a few medical insurance companies cover medical tourism. However, there is an increasing demand for medical tourism insurance, and we may soon see big healthcare insurance carriers providing patients the choice of travelling overseas. This would undoubtedly be a significant step toward making healthcare more affordable.
Monitoring Best Practices in the Industry
A increasing number of international healthcare certification bodies are now certifying foreign hospitals to assure greater standards of healthcare quality. This accreditation is given based on the quality of medical treatments and the degree of healthcare services supplied. Since 1999, the Joint Commission International (JCI), a non-profit organisation established in the United States, has been permitted to certify and accredit hospitals and medical institutions located in countries other than the United States. Many nations’ medical tourism providers are increasingly pursuing certification in order to stay on track with healthcare best practise norms and acquire patient confidence and trust.
The medical tourism business is expanding quickly and will continue to do so unless healthcare providers and insurance companies make concerted efforts to reduce health-care expenditures. Medical travel is not an issue; it is a response to less expensive medical treatments. And, until the healthcare business in Western nations can find ways to cut expenses, medical tourism will undoubtedly be the most persuasive solution.