Why is Thailand a Popular Medical Tourism Destination?

Thailand has dominated the medical tourism scene in Southeast Asia for many years, especially in the realm of cosmetic surgery. But how did Thailand become the medical tourism powerhouse that it is today?

Following the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, which began in Thailand, there was a push in Asian countries to encourage foreign investment. In many Asian countries, this included a push to draw visitors with world-renowned centers for medical achievement. Thailand, in particular, began to draw attention as a destination to receive medical work and surgery at a lower cost. The Thai government noticed this and worked to expand the country’s influence in the global medical tourism sphere.

The government’s hard work to market Thailand in the medical tourism industry has paid off. To date, Thailand boasts 66 JCI accredited hospitals, a number that puts them fourth globally and first amongst their fellow Southeast Asian countries! This high level of accreditation along with Thailand’s reputation for being welcoming to visitors has made the country quite popular among medical tourists seeking great prices on medical work and great options for recovery vacations.

Thailand’s medical tourism landscape is dominated by major procedures such as cosmetic surgery and dentistry, gender reassignment surgery, and heart surgery as well as preventative care and alternative medicine. Many medical tourists come to Thailand from other Asian countries. 

If you are a medical tourist looking to travel to an Asian country known for both its hospitality and its medical standard of care, Thailand could be an excellent option to look into for your trip. For medical tourism insurance, we can take care of you. Learn more and get a quote today.

Top Medical Tourism Destinations in South and Central America

Brazil

As South America’s largest and wealthiest country, Brazil is an extremely popular medical tourist destination. Brazillian culture values aesthetics and personal appearance, and they have been at the forefront of cosmetic procedures for their own residents. It is the world’s second-highest plastic surgery market, second only to the U.S., with more than 4,000 licensed plastic surgeons. For comparison, the U.S. has about one thousand more. Popular aesthetic procedures here include breast augmentation and reduction, liposuction, dental implants, rhinoplasty, and buttock implants. 

Chile

Chile is the wealthiest country in South America per capita, although it is smaller in size and population than Brazil. It is politically stable and a founding member of the United Nations. There are two JCI-accredited hospitals in Chile’s capital city of Santiago, in addition to numerous private healthcare providers. Private practices are operated to the highest of standards, yet the care is still less expensive than when using insurance in the U.S. or Europe. Chile’s natural beauty and ecologically diverse landscape make it a stunning place to be as you recover from any procedure. Plastic and reconstructive surgeries are the most common medical tourism procedures including breast augmentation, face and body lift and tummy tuck. However, Chilean hospitals also offer medical tourists with top quality internal medicine, oncology, and neurology services among others.  

Panama

This small country links the Latin and South American regions and is another popular medical tourist destination. With the creation of the Panama Canal, this country became increasingly important as it linked eastern and western trade routes especially for the U.S. The U.S. still maintains strong diplomatic relations with Panama today. English is widely spoken, and the national currency is the U.S. dollar. Many doctors trained abroad in the U.S. or U.K., so you can expect high-quality standards of care at a price that is lower than in North America or Europe. Punta Pacifica Hospital is also the only South American medical facility to maintain a partnership with the prestigious John’s Hopkins University. The most popular procedures here are specialized surgeries, orthopedics, and in-vitro fertilization. Medical aesthetics and cosmetic surgeries are also popular. 

Costa Rica

Much like its neighbor Panama to the south, Costa Rica is a country brimming with opportunities for medical tourists. With cost savings between 40 to 60% for U.S. citizens and hundreds of miles of beautiful beachfront, it is easy to see why this land of sun and sand is so popular. Because Costa Rica also has a thriving leisure tourism market, you will find plenty of beautiful sights and entertainment as you recover. In fact, some hotels are set up as special outpatient recovery suites with around-the-clock access to medical professionals, should you need them during your recovery. Most medical tourism in Costa Rica is centered on cosmetic surgery, with dental implants, breast augmentation, and facelifts topping the list.

Medical Tourism Insurance 

If you are planning a medical tourism trip to South America or another region of the globe, medical tourism insurance can help reduce your risk. Reach out today to learn more.

Top 5 Medical Tourism Destinations in Asia

The medical tourism industry has been booming in Asia for quite a while now. In fact, some Asian countries are consistently on the lists for the most popular medical tourism destinations! The standard of care is phenomenal and these Asian destinations are beautiful places to recover from a medical procedure. Here are the top five medical tourism destinations in Asia! 

Thailand 

The government in Thailand has placed a high focus on fostering their medical tourism market, and the work has certainly paid off. The “Land of Smiles” boasts an impressive medical tourism market, with 66 JCI accredited hospitals in the country. That’s the highest number of any country in Southeast Asia! The JCI, or Joint Commission International, accreditation is important because it indicates that a facility has achieved certain standards for safety and quality of care, two things that put the mind of a medical tourist at ease when choosing a facility for their procedure. The World Health Organization has called Thailand’s healthcare system “world class,” an impressive nod from an important group. Procedures Thailand is known for include breast implants, dental procedures, and gender reassignment surgeries. 

Singapore 

Long known as the best medical tourism destination in Southeast Asia (some say this title has been overtaken by Thailand, however), Singapore is an excellent choice for your medical tourism trip. While the cost of living is known to be quite high, the cost of healthcare in Singapore remains low – especially for those traveling from somewhere like the US. The patient experience in Singapore is unrivaled among Asian countries, with more than 15 hospitals dedicated entirely to medical tourists – staffed with English speaking doctors and well accustomed to foreign patients. Facilities in Singapore boast cutting edge technology and patients report high satisfaction rates. While the costs of procedures may be slightly higher than in surrounding countries like Thailand or Malaysia, patients willing to pay a little more (although still far less than they would at home!) for the best possible standards of care should consider making Singapore their medical tourism destination. Top procedures include hip and knee replacements, cardiac surgeries, fertility treatments, and cancer treatments. 

India 

Along with Thailand and Singapore, India is one of the top three most popular medical tourism destinations in Asia. In fact, these three countries account for roughly 90% of Asia’s medical tourism market. India’s physicians and surgeons are highly trained in their practice and deliver quality care to international patients. Due to foreign investment in the industry, India’s medical tourism market is only going to grow. There are also many agencies that cater to medical tourists, helping to arrange everything from visas to accommodation to sightseeing. Patients traveling to India for medical care can expect to save up to 85% on their procedures. Alternative medicine, cardiac surgeries, bone-marrow transplants, and hip replacements are some of the most common procedures for medical tourists in India. 

Malaysia 

An emerging medical tourism destination, Malaysia should be on your list of possible locations to take your medical tourism trip. The health ministry in Malaysia regulates the prices charged by private medical facilities, meaning the cost of care remains reasonable even at the best facilities. Malaysia is one of the top destinations for medical tourists coming from other Asian countries, who often travel there for low-cost routine screenings and checkups. Malaysia is also a popular medical tourism destination for Muslim patients, with physicians and surgeons who are familiar with Muslim customs and facilities offering Halal food and prayer rooms. There are a number of facilities in Malaysia that staff international doctors who speak English and European languages, and these facilities welcome thousands of international medical tourists every year. Cosmetic surgeries, weight loss surgeries, and orthopedic procedures are common for international patients in Malaysia. 

South Korea 

For patients seeking only cosmetic surgeries, South Korea is the perfect choice of medical tourism destination. Home to a robust beauty industry and hundreds of beauty clinics, it should be no surprise that the cosmetic surgery market in South Korea is also among the very best. The South Korean government is very welcoming to medical tourists, having built facilities for international patients and making it easy to obtain visas for visitors coming to receive medical care. The medical technology in South Korea is also internationally regarded as some of the best — robotic surgery technology is currently in development! The most popular procedures for international patients include all kinds of cosmetic and plastic surgery. 

Medical Tourism Insurance 

Whether you are planning to travel to an Asian country or another part of the world for your medical tourism trip, we have insurance products that can help reduce your risk. Reach out today to learn more.