Definition of Medical Tourism

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02/15/2012 | By: Guest Contributor

Not too many of us are familiar with the term Medical Tourism—of course we know what medical means and what tourism means, but few of us hardly grasp what the phrase medical tourism really stands for.

According to Segen’s Medical Dictionary, medical tourism is defined as “A term coined by travel agencies and the mass media for the practice of travelling across national borders to obtain health care. It also refers to the practice of healthcare providers travelling internationally to deliver healthcare, which is both pejorative and less common.”

Medical tourism is a powerful phenomenon that dominates today’s trends. Traveling abroad for health care has been growing at an escalating pace during the last decade-- and particularly in the last couple of years amid the dire financial and economical times the world is experiencing.

The US, and currently Europe, have been in a recession for much of the past decade, affecting all sectors of the economy, especially employment.

All these factors have drawn the American public’s attention to health spending and the prospect of receiving the same quality health care services abroad for half the price.

Under the broad umbrella of medical tourism, a handful of other terms pertaining to dental care, infertility and organ transplantation treatments have emerged on the global medical landscape.

Dental tourism is the most popular subset of the medical tourism industry. The spiking cost of dental care in the US helped fueled the dental tourism trend.

Hungary is considered the world’s ambassador of dental care. Dental care in Hungary offer inexpensive packages that include all costs related to the dental treatment, like X-ray, prosthesis and the dentist’s fees.

Mexico is also a dental care ambassador serving the other side of the pond- the US and Canada.

With just a short drive from California, Arizona and Texas to Cancun, Guadalajara and Los Cabos in Mexico, US dental patients can have their tooth filled, implanted or whitened in a safe and professional environment—for less than what can be paid for dental care in the US.

Dental care in Mexico boasts a vast variety of dental treatments that will help you to regain your most beautiful smile. Dental veneers, dental implants and dental crowns are the most popular cosmetic dental treatments in Mexico.

Fertility tourism is the process of traveling abroad for a variety of fertility treatments, such as IVF, egg donation, surrogacy, gender selection and PGD. Fertility destinations serve as a haven for patients baffled by the inflexible fertility laws in their own home country.

When mentioning fertility destinations many countries come to mind. Fertility clinics in Cyprus reign supreme in the assisted reproduction industry, helping thousands of patients from the UK and the rest of Western Europe fulfill their dream of having a baby mostly seeking treatments like embryo adoption, egg donation, gender selection, PGD for gentic testing.

Other fertility destinations that made their mark in the past few years are Armenia, Georgia, Greece, India, Jordan, Russia, Spain and Thailand.

Traveling overseas for medical care is not only restricted to cost-saving purposes; a growing percentage of international patients travel overseas to take advantage of advanced medical technology and speedy medical services.

Case in point: Turkey has witnessed an upsurge of interest in patients traveling for a wide range of treatments, from organ transplantation, heart surgery and hair transplantation.

Organ transplantation in Turkey boasts affordable transplant programs, replacing kidney, liver and bone marrow and other live and multi-organ transplantation. Kidney and liver transplants in Turkey are widely available and being successfully performed in world-class medical centers and clinics.

Many Arab patients traveling for hair transplantation in Turkey are lured by the close proximity of Turkish cities like Istanbul and Ankara to major Middle-Eastern capitals.

Like any industry, medical tourism carries its baggage of advantages and disadvantages.

That said, many patients are not aware of the disadvantages and dangers of medical tourism.

Medical tourists have no access to legal recourse incase of malpractice, negligence, or misdiagnosis, despite the availability of medical malpractice insurance in some countries.

Depending on your intended medical tourist destination, insurance laws may vary. Some plastic surgery treatments are not covered. Make sure you educate yourself on insurance laws before you set off for your plastic surgery abroad.

You Can See the Doctor at this Time Next Year!
Unlike in the US, European and Canadian patients endure endless waits to receive government-run medical care. Patients in a number of countries, such as Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden and even Canada experience long waiting list-particularly in public-funded hospitals- which sometimes can stretch to years.

The very term of medical tourism may be slightly insensitive to patients traveling half way around the world for an open-heart surgery or liver transplant. For severe medical cases, not all patients will have the chance to engage in tourist activities.

If you do your homework as a modern-day medical tourist, you will be able to carefully assess the pros and cons of medical tourism and reap its countless benefits.

For those patients who did; many of them realized medical tourism is an advantageous alternative for affordable health care service, shorter waiting-lists and advanced medical treatments.

Need help finding a medical tourist destination for yourself?  Contact anyone or our highly qualified patient coordinators today at


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