Medical Tourism Market Predictions

Medical tourism is popular (and economical) for a number of reasons. As the cost of medical treatments in developed countries continues to grow, medical tourism – the act of traveling to a foreign country to receive low cost, high quality medical care – will only continue to rise in popularity. 

Driving Factors 

Along with lower costs for procedures, medical facilities outside of the U.S. often have equal or better recovery care, equipment and technology. The standards that international care is valued at are also becoming higher, and facilities are competing to keep up and meet the resulting demands. These standards are most often set by organizations such as the Global Healthcare Accreditation (GHA) and the Joint Commission International (JCI), which give valuable accreditations to hospitals and facilities that meet their standards of quality. 

Projected Growth 

In 2018, the global medical tourism market was valued at USD 39.6 billion. From 2019 to 2026, it’s expected to see a CAGR of 21.9%. This means that by 2026, the global medical tourism market is estimated to be valued at a staggering USD 179.6 billion. 

Popular Destinations 

Thailand dominated the medical tourism market in 2018, bringing in both the most revenue and the highest numbers of patients. Many choose Thailand for cosmetic procedures, but other procedures are more popular in different countries. The Asia-Pacific region overall does, however, dominate the medical tourism market. In 2018, the region brought in USD 4.8 billion from medical tourism. Along with Thailand, India, Singapore, and Malaysia are the most popular destinations for international healthcare in the region. It’s worth noting that the Latin American (LATAM) medical tourism market is expected to expand at 7.3% CAGR by 2025, so this region is not one to ignore for patients seeking healthcare across international borders. 

Insurance for Complications in Medical Tourism 

Wherever a patient chooses to go, even if it is a highly accredited hospital, there is a chance that unforeseen complications could arise after a procedure is performed. Our medical tourism insurance helps protect patients from the financial burden these complications would inevitably incur. 

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Popular Procedures For International Patients

An international patient is someone who travels outside their home country to receive medical care or procedures. These procedures are often ones that would not be covered under the patient’s health insurance. Other times, the procedures are experimental or not offered in the patient’s home country. In many cases, however, patients undergo healthcare internationally because even with the added cost of airfare and accommodation, the work is less expensive than it would be when performed in their home country – often even after health insurance.

We have covered the most popular destinations for American medical tourists, but what are the most popular procedures overall for international patients? Based on findings by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and Patients Beyond Borders, here are the most common procedures and treatments for international patients:

  • Cosmetic Surgery
  • Dentistry
  • Joint Replacement
  • Heart Surgery 
  • Elective Surgery
  • Fertility Treatment
  • Cancer Treatment 
  • Weight Loss Treatment

Despite the popularity of traveling internationally to receive medical care, there are certain risks associated with the practice. While medical tourism can be an incredibly successful and cost-effective solution, with opportunities to save up to 90% (according to the Medical Tourism Association), it can also be dangerous. If you are planning to engage in medical tourism, for any of the above procedures or more, make sure you’re covered against unexpected costs in the event of complications. Medical tourism insurance is there to give you peace of mind at an important and exciting time in your life.

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Where Are American Medical Tourists Going For Health Care?

The United States has the most expensive healthcare in the world, so it’s no surprise that Americans have increasingly been traveling to receive medical care. For Americans without health insurance or Americans seeking procedures that are not covered by their health insurance, traveling to another country to have the work done is a great option. This practice is called medical tourism. Common procedures for American medical tourists include cosmetic, dental, and surgical work. But what countries are Americans visiting to receive this care?

Latin America
Top medical tourism destinations in Latin America include Mexico and Costa Rica. In Mexico, medical tourism is so popular that many towns along the United States-Mexico border have an incredibly high concentration of medical offices. Dental work is an especially popular type of medical tourism in Mexico.

The Caribbean
In addition to gorgeous beaches, the Caribbean region also boasts world-class medical facilities where patients can receive procedures for a fraction of the cost. The countries of the Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Cuba and Puerto Rico are the top destinations that American medical tourists visit to receive healthcare away from home. Cosmetic work and cardiac surgeries are especially common procedures.

Asia
Countries like India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand are the most popular Asian destinations for American medical tourists. Even with the cost of airfare to these far away destinations, the overall cost of traveling to receive medical care in Asia is less than the cost of getting the same work done in the United States. The most popular procedures vary from country to country, but Asia is such a popular medical tourism destination that no matter what you need done, you can find an experienced practitioner to perform it.

Whether you’re visiting Latin America, the Caribbean, or Asia to engage in medical tourism, there are unexpected costs that may arise due to complications. While we hope no complications happen, you’ll be better off with the extra protection that only medical tourism insurance can provide. Don’t let your international healthcare experience ruin you financially.

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Medical Tourism Facts: Australia

Medical tourism is not just for Americans. Many Australian patients are choosing to receive medical care and elective procedures outside of their home country. The high cost of medical work in Australia is driving these patients to seek care elsewhere, despite the added costs of travel and accommodation.

Here are some of the most current facts about Australian medical tourism:

  • Most Australian medical tourists elect to receive their treatments and procedures in Asian countries, including Thailand, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Turkey.
  • The most common types of procedures that Australian medical tourists travel to receive are cosmetic surgery and dental work.
  • Often, these cosmetic procedures for Australian medical tourists include breast augmentations, facelifts, and tummy-tucks.
  • Non-cosmetic procedures are on the rise for Australian medical tourists. These include surgeries for spine, neck, and shoulder as well as knee and hip replacements and fertility treatments.
  • In many countries abroad, the standard of care is much higher than patients’ home countries.
  • Patients can also enjoy rest and recovery in resort-style care facilities.
  • Roughly 15,000 Australian patients travel abroad for medical tourism each year.
  • Australians who travel for cosmetic procedures spend roughly $300 million per year on treatments, and this is still while saving up to 80% on the cost of treatments.
  • Australian Medicare is unlikely to cover any overseas medical treatment that is not deemed an emergency.
  • Engaging in medical tourism does carry risks that patients need to be aware of.
  • Standard travel insurance will, in most cases, not provide any coverage for costs related to medical complications.
  • Medical tourism insurance is the only coverage that is guaranteed to provide assistance with the cost of complications.

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Medical Tourism in Thailand

Thailand tops the list of medical tourism destinations.

In 2017, an estimated 2.4 million international patients visited Thai hospitals for medical care. BBC Travel reported that the Thai medical tourism industry is growing at a rate of 16% each year. The Asian country has dominated the market due to three key factors: low cost of medical treatments, high quality of treatments, and high level of hospitality.

The most obvious reason many international patients choose Thailand as their medical tourism destination is because they are able to save on average 50% to 70% on the cost of treatments. For example, a knee replacement that would cost $30,000 in the U.S. will cost around $11,500 in Thailand. An MRI scan that would be $2,611 in the U.S. costs roughly $190 if performed in Thailand.

Most international patients travel to Thailand seeking elective treatments such as cosmetic surgery or dental work, which are the top two markets. Other specialties in Thailand include orthopedics, cardiology, IVF/reproductive medicine, and spine surgery. International patients are also attracted to medical care in Thailand because of the relatively short wait lists for procedures, something that can be difficult to find in countries like the U.S. or the U.K.

The second reason that patients traveling to receive medical care choose Thailand is the country’s strong healthcare system, with a strong presence of private hospitals. These private hospitals know that Thailand is a popular medical tourism destination, and they do all that they can to cater to international visitors. The hospitals’ physicians are highly trained, and over 500 Thai doctors are American Board Certified. There are 64 facilities that have received a JCI accreditation. The JCI, or Joint Commission International, is an organization that encourages medical excellence in countries outside the U.S.

Finally, Thailand is an attractive medical tourism destination because it is also an attractive tourism destination. The country is known for its hospitality, and its medical centers are no exception. Patients will receive excellent bedside service in Thailand, and it is a beautiful place in which to rest and recover from operations. The most popular cities for medical tourism that have the best medical facilities are Bangkok and Phuket.

If a patient does experience unforeseen complications while recovering from a medical procedure in Thailand or any foreign country – or even after returning home – international travel medical insurance and complications coverage can assist in providing relief from additional expenses that were not planned for.

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