What is the Best Destination for Medical Tourism?
Traveling For Medical Tourism
With travel more accessible than ever before, the concept of tourism has expanded to include more than just taking a holiday. Medical tourism is a quickly growing industry that involves traveling to another country to receive medical treatments or procedures. Low costs and availability of procedures outside of the patient’s country of residence are two main reasons why medical tourism is becoming popular. In 2019, there were over 14 million medical tourists globally, and experts predict this number to increase at a CAGR of 4.5% until 2024.
Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic slowed medical tourism rates, especially in the first half of 2020. Travel restrictions and overwhelmed medical facilities made it nearly impossible to travel for any medical procedures. However, rates have only increased in the last year and are expected to reach pre-pandemic growth rates again. COVID-19 also spurred a new type of medical tourism: vaccine tourism. Many tourists began to travel to destinations with ample COVID-19 vaccines, combining the vaccination with tourism.
There are many excellent international destinations where patients can find a variety of available medical treatments. Selecting the best destination for one’s needs will depend on several factors, including quality of care, affordability, and accessibility. Some top destinations for global medical tourism include Thailand, India, Mexico, and Turkey, among others.
Top Reasons for Medical Tourism
The most popular reason medical tourists pursue treatment outside their home country is to seek lower costs than they can find locally. Healthcare can be expensive in countries like the United States, so some medical tourists find it cheaper to travel and receive care abroad. Health tourists might also seek treatments not covered by their health insurance or unavailable in their country of residence. These procedures might include cosmetic surgery, dental reconstruction, or fertility treatment.
Some countries face long waiting times for specific procedures, so patients find it more convenient to seek treatment in a destination where they can access immediate care. Medical tourists might also be motivated by the availability of some procedures outside their home country. In the United Kingdom and Canada, where the national health programs do not cover some cosmetic and dental surgeries, patients will travel elsewhere to undergo the desired procedure.
Some medical tourists simply want to combine a convenient, low-cost medical visit with their holiday plans. Therefore they visit destinations that offer attractive medical tourism opportunities and exciting opportunities for other types of tourism.
Common Medical Tourism Procedures
Medical tourists travel abroad for various treatments. These procedures can range from dental care and cosmetic surgery to fertility treatments, organ and tissue transplantation, and cancer treatment. Other desired procedures could include assisted reproductive technology, orthopedic surgery, organ and cellular transplantation, and cardiac surgery. Other tourists travel for noncosmetic surgeries, stem cell therapy, or treatment for drug addiction.
Top Destination for Medical Tourism
Among health tourism experts, Thailand is widely considered the top destination for receiving excellent medical care abroad. In addition to medical treatments, Thailand is known for its beautiful beaches, rich culture, and delicious cuisine, making it an attractive destination for medical tourists. They can access safe, high-quality medical procedures and recover in a stunning and affordable luxury beach spa or wellness resort.
Thailand is considered affordable for health and wellness tourism compared to other countries. A procedure in Thailand is much more affordable than in the U.S. or Europe. The country receives millions of international patients each year seeking medical treatments.
Most doctors in Thailand are fluent in English, having completed their training in Western countries or Singapore. This is attractive to many patients from countries where English is widely spoken, like the U.S., Canada, and many parts of Europe.
Thailand put itself on the map of medical tourism with high-quality cosmetic procedures. Now, it also offers excellent burn treatments and dental procedures. Many hospitals in Thailand are state-of-the-art facilities accredited by international organizations such as the Joint Commission International (JCI).
Other Destinations for Medical Tourism
Many excellent international destinations for medical tourism are affordable and safe. Medical tourists should opt for the country with the necessary procedure at the right print point. The destination should also be accessible and within budget. It’s advised that patients do plenty of research before committing to one destination for their medical tourism.
India is a popular destination for medical tourism, particularly for complex procedures like organ transplants and cardiac surgery. Hospitals in India are known for their affordability and are considered very high-quality. Many are accredited by international organizations and offer various medical services at a fraction of the cost in other countries. There is also a wide availability of English-speaking doctors and staff. India is a vast and complex country with many cultural experiences. Medical tourists might combine medical treatment with some light traveling to see historic sites like the Taj Mahal or visit the beaches in Goa.
Mexico has been emerging as a top destination for medical tourism in recent years, especially for U.S. residents. Medical costs are much lower in Mexico compared to the U.S., and the standard of care is still very high. They use the latest technologies and treatments as well. Popular procedures in Mexico include dental surgeries and cosmetic procedures. With beautiful beaches, historic landmarks, and delicious cuisine, Mexico is a comfortable and safe place to recover after a medical procedure.
With high medical care and technology standards, affordability, and a convenient location, Turkey is one of the most popular medical tourism destinations. Turkey actually has the most American-accredited hospitals outside of the U.S. and is globally considered a top-rated destination for medical tourism. Many travelers choose Turkey for affordable laser eye surgery, eye exams, eyeglass prescriptions, and treatments for glaucoma and cataracts. Hair implants and cosmetic surgeries are popular in Turkey as well. Istanbul has over 600 registered clinics that specialize in hair loss treatments. Turkey is easy to travel to, and many visitors can easily obtain an e-Visa online. It’s an affordable destination with a relatively low cost of living, so medical tourists can enjoy other forms of tourism during their stay without breaking the bank. Prospective medical tourists will find plenty of packages offered by hotel chains. The Turkish government has capitalized on many medical tourists in recent years by incentivizing medical tourism with discounted airline tickets and other perks. Not to mention that Turkey is a central location, accessible by European and Arab tourists.
Medical tourism in the United Arab Emirates is booming due to the attention and efforts of the government to develop the sector. The UAE is geographically convenient for travelers and has a good reputation for high-quality medical care. The rapid development rate of its economy and healthcare sectors makes it attractive for health tourism, as does its modern infrastructure. Many healthcare practitioners in the UAE are trained in the U.S., so American medical tourists find it easy to communicate with doctors and nurses there. In 2015, Dubai was named “The Most Recommended Medical Tourism Destination in the World,” which helped to elevate the country’s health and wellness tourism reputation. The most popular services UAE offers are cancer treatments, dental surgeries, noncosmetic surgery, fertility procedures, and orthopedic treatments.
Preparing for Medical Tourism
Safety is a crucial consideration when planning a trip for health tourism. Medical tourists should ensure they are getting treated at an accredited or reputable facility. Health tourists must understand the costs of the procedure before traveling and check to see if anything can be covered by insurance. U.S. health insurance companies and large employers have alliances with healthcare facilities abroad.
Health tourists should check the qualifications of their healthcare provider before undertaking any procedure or treatment. It’s also a good idea to obtain a detailed description of the treatments, supplies, and care that will be covered by the cost of the trip.
As with any international trip, it is advised that medical tourists learn about the language and culture of the country they are visiting. In addition, they should bring copies of their medical records and a list of medications and supplements they are taking. After the procedure, asking about any required follow-up care is essential. For health tourists that decide to have a holiday after their procedure, the healthcare provider should be able to advise about sunbathing, drinking alcohol, swimming, hiking, or other tourist activities. Medical tourists should obtain and keep records of the treatment and receipts for any fees paid.
Why Medical Tourism is Becoming Popular
Medical tourism benefits travelers of all nationalities and is becoming more popular each year. Medical tourism allows patients to access a much more comprehensive range of procedures than those offered in their country of residence. It can also be more affordable for medical tourists to travel to a destination and receive the treatment or procedure they need in a country that offers it for a lower cost. Medical tourists often experience shorter waiting times in countries where the procedures are more accessible and can access medical treatment more immediately. Plus, medical tourists can combine regular tourism with their procedure, experiencing all the destination offers while undergoing the necessary treatment. For these reasons, medical tourism is increasing in popularity and growing rapidly.
Medical tourism is popular and lucrative, with millions engaging in it annually. With attractive destinations like the UAE, Turkey, Thailand, and more, medical tourists can select the best option for their medical needs. Medical tourists can save money, access a wider range of procedures and experience shorter waiting times while experiencing another country and engaging in tourism.
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