Medical Tourism Uncovered: Are There Benefits to Medical Treatment Abroad?

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08/18/2015 | By: Guest Contributor

Medical tourism is on the rise — as more than a million Americans have left the United States to have medical care abroad. It is a high-growth industry driven by globalization and the impractical healthcare costs in many areas of the globe.

So, what are the benefits of traveling to a foreign country for medical treatment? From heart surgery to hair transplantation — to weight loss surgery to cosmetic surgery, let’s look at the four biggest rewards of this trending phenomenon:

1. World-Class Treatment Abroad

While medical tourism hasn’t always established the green light on reputation — today, overseas medical care is at its best. Government support and improving medical infrastructure has given medical tourism its most potential in 2015. Top destinations include the UK, Philippines, Mexico, Turkey and Thailand — all on par with the highest standards of medical care and U.S. trained doctors and specialists. 

Over 150,000 foreign patients went to Tunisia in 2013 according to Health Minister Mohamed Salah Ben Ammar. The number of medical tourists traveling to Asia is expected to surpass 10 million by 2015. It is estimated that by the year 2015, India will receive nearly half a million medical tourists annually. Health and wellness tourism revenue in Thailand is expected to reach 3.11 billion USD by 2017. Turkey’s Ministry of Health expects medical tourists to increase from 270,000 in 2012 to 500,000 in 2015, and to 2 million by 2023.

2. Resourceful Customer Service

Efficient customer services can be a challenge. The top destination clinics abroad offering medical treatment were designed to be models of proficiency. With no wait times and on-demand patient facilities, those traveling overseas will find five-star services surrounded by five-star attractions.

“Medical Tourism is one of the fastest growing segments of healthcare throughout the world. Patients are more educated than ever and are going online to research information and are traveling to where they can get the best quality care at an affordable price. Medical Tourism also allows patients access to medical care or treatment that isn’t available in their home country,” stated Jonathan Edelheit, CEO of Medical Tourism Association.

3. Affordable Treatment Costs

The cost of medical treatment in developed countries, particularly in the U.S. is significantly high, which has prompted many women and men to visit cost effective treatment destinations. It is estimated that the medical tourism market size is USD 38.5-55 billion, based on approximately eleven million cross-border patients worldwide spending an average of USD 3,500-5,000 per visit, including all medically-related costs, cross-border and local transport, inpatient stay and accommodations.

According to the AARP, a heart bypass in the United States typically runs $88,000. In Costa Rica, that figure drops to $30,000. Hip transplant? $35,000 in the States and $12,000 in Thailand. Nose surgery runs for $6,200 in the United States, but only $2,500 in Mexico. The costs are simply incomparable.

4. Travelers Paradise

Why not spend your free time before and after medical treatment visiting glamorous locales and becoming familiar with foreign culture? From pyramids and mountains to street markets and beaches, traveling abroad for medical treatment has a profusion of benefits.


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