Medical tourism is the practice of travelling to different countries to get quality and affordable healthcare services. It is also referred to as global healthcare, health tourism, plus medical travel.
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The term ‘medical tourism’ was created by the media and journey agencies to popularize this form of practice. Today, medical tourism is continuing to grow to become an official industry in more than 50 countries.
Why is Medical Travel and leisure Popular?
So , what exactly are the benefits of medical tourism and why do individuals travel abroad for simple and complex medical procedures? The main factor that encourages medical travel is undoubtedly the high price of medical care in developed countries like the United States. Most medical travel locations offer surgeries at almost one-third the costs of developed countries. This particular translates into bigger savings for a person who has to undergo a complex surgical procedure like a liver transplant or even for any cosmetic surgery procedure.
Another reason is the higher costs of medical insurance in traditional western countries which have led to many people not really opting for any medical plans. The high unemployment rates in the U. H and other European countries are another major contributing factor. Today, due to the deteriorating unemployment levels millions of people can no longer pay for 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 inside a short period of time.
Medical Tourism Costs Comparison
Here are some surprising cost comparisons which justify the existence of the healthcare tourism industry. A liver transplant in the U. S would cost close to a whopping $300, 000, while a person who opts to travel to Taiwan would end up paying just around $90, 000. This translates into cost savings of around 70 percent. Likewise, a heart valve replacement costs about $10, 000 in India, whereas it costs around $200, 000 in the United States. Women who plan to go through complex cosmetic surgery have to spend a lot of money in the U. S. In this case, a complete facelift in South Africa would price just around $1250 compared to about $20, 000 in the United States. These obvious price cost savings are the most important reason behind the huge growth in the medical tourism industry
Pros and Cons of Medical Tourism
Medical travel abroad isn’t only popular because of the cost savings. There are many various other benefits too. For example , the waiting times for medical procedures in the U. K are long and cumbersome. On the other hand, in medical tourism, the patient’s entire procedure is prepared and scheduled well in advance. When 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 around benchmarks ranging from 16 to 26 weeks for non-emergency medical procedures such as cataract and hip replacement surgical procedure.
While the medical travel industry provides its benefits it also has its share of drawbacks and issues. For example , a medical tourist may be easily susceptible to many diseases in the web host country, where high standards of hygiene may not be available. A person in the United States may have low to no natural immunity levels to these illnesses. These diseases could hamper or complicate existing health conditions. Some of the illnesses that could weaken or complicate the particular recovery of the person are amoebic dysentery, influenza, typhoid, and tuberculosis. Health complications could also arise during travel due to cramped seats in air carriers and long distance flights.
Even certified hospitals in countries like Indian lack adequate complaint registering procedures. This leads to a lot of patients being totally dissatisfied with the services offered. Additionally, there are many legal and ethical problems involved during organ transplantation in India and China. This primarily is due to the large-scale illegal buy of tissues and organs during these countries. Despite these shortcomings, healthcare travel seems to be the way forward except if countries like the United States can manage to cut their medical costs significantly or start providing medical travel and leisure insurance.
Popular Medical Tourism Destinations
Many people are on the lookout for both simple and complex procedures such as cardiac surgery, hip and knee replacement, dental surgery and cosmetic surgery. For these procedures the most popular medical traveling destinations are India, Argentina, Cuba, Hungary, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, The Philippines, Ukraine, Lithuania, and South Korea. High quality cosmetic surgery at affordable prices is available in countries like Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, Turkey, plus Colombia. Over the last few years, South United states countries like Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Bolivia have become a warm destination for world-class plastic surgeries. These countries boast of talented and skilled cosmetic surgeons of repute. Most medical tourists come from countries like the United States, Canada, the U. K, plus Japan.
Implications for the Healthcare Sector
Medical travel has created implications in countries from where they originate. In 2007, more than 750, 1000 Americans sought healthcare services away from country and more than 1 . five million are expected to seek offshore healthcare in 2008. This has resulted in the usa health care industry losing billions of bucks and is set to lose even more in the future. According to a Deloitte Consulting report of 2008, medical tourism in the United States could most likely increase by almost 10 times in the next decade. This trend is alarming and can hardly be ignored by the healthcare industry. While this may spell trouble for that healthcare insurance industry, it could also be a motivating factor for the healthcare industry to lower its premiums to stay competitive. This major shift in the direction of medical tourism has opened opportunities for medical tourism insurance. Currently, very few medical insurers cover medical tourism. However , there is a growing demand for medical tourism insurance and might soon see major healthcare insurance providers offering people the option going abroad. This would definitely be an important step in making healthcare more affordable.