Medical tourism can be considered a kind of import: instead of the product coming to the consumer, as it does with cars or sneakers, the consumer is going to the product.
― James Surowiecki
The practice of traveling abroad to seek medical aid and healthcare facilities is termed as 'medical tourism'. Over the past few decades, numerous countries have become popular destinations for medical tourism, one of the primary reasons being the cheaper costs for complex medical procedures that they offer. Each year, millions of people travel across international borders to avail inexpensive but state-of-the-art medical services offered by other countries. According to MedRetreat
, a US-based company that specializes in helping medical tourists get appropriate and affordable treatments overseas, medical tourism helps save up to 80% of the total healthcare costs that may be incurred in the US. Plus, the procedures adhere to the same high standards as in the United States.
If you are seeking a life-changing medical treatment that is very expensive in your home country, traveling abroad to get treatment may actually help you save a lot of money. Buzzle brings you a list of top 10 destinations around the world, which offer affordable and quality medical aid.
Howsoever surprising it may sound, the richly historical nation of Turkey is one of the most sought-after destinations for health travelers the world over. The country proudly boasts of having the largest number of Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited facilities anywhere in the world, outside the US. And what's more? There are plenty of well-trained and experienced doctors, learned medical staff that is extremely fluent in English, and needless to say, an efficient medical system that is known to cater well to tourists. Plus, all the medical technology and facilities adhere to the strict quality standards set by the Turkish government.
Commonly Sought Procedures: Cosmetic surgeries, hair transplants, and eye surgeries.
One of the most popular and inexpensive tourist destinations in the world is also a famous destination for health tourism. Thailand boasts of having the largest private hospital in Asia―the Bumrungrad International Hospital
―and also of being the first Asian nation to have achieved the prestigious JCI accreditation in the year 2002. Due to the latest medical technology on offer and well-trained and experienced medical professionals, Thailand has now grown to become one of the most sought-after medical tourism locations, not only for Asian tourists, but also for those from the Middle East, Europe, and the United States.
Commonly Sought Procedures: Cosmetic surgeries, organ transplants, cardiac and orthopedic treatments, dental surgeries, and mental therapies.
8. South Korea
In 2009, CNN listed South Korea among the "Hot destinations for medical tourism". That year, the country received about 60,000 medical tourists, and the number increased by 20,000 in the subsequent year. Now, the South Korean Ministry of Health
has estimated that the number will increase up to 300,000 by 2015. Apart from state-of-the-art healthcare facilities, the country also boasts of having built special information centers for medical tourists that guide them to relevant healthcare facilities.
Commonly Sought Procedures: Spinal surgeries, cancer screenings and treatments, cosmetic surgeries, and herbal medicine.
The World Health Organization has ranked Singapore's healthcare system as the best in the whole of Asia, and the sixth best in the entire world. There's absolutely no wonder that this tiny little country has made it to this list! With dozens of JCI accredited hospitals and health centers spread all across the country, Singapore attracts health travelers not only from its neighboring countries, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, but also from the US and the UK, owing to its affordable medical services in a clean and hygienic cosmopolitan environment.
Commonly Sought Procedures: Cardiac treatments, occupational therapy, neurological surgeries, and stem cell therapy.
Medical tourists travel from all across the globe to Mexico, famous not only for its inexpensive dental and plastic surgeries, but also for alternative medicine. Mexico also has an added geographical advantage―its vicinity to the United States has made it a popular destination for American health travelers, especially those residing near the Mexican border in the American states of California, Arizona, and Texas.
Commonly Sought Procedures: Chemotherapy, alternative cancer treatments, plastic surgery, and bariatric procedures.
Attracting roughly about a million medical tourists each year, Malaysia is fairly similar to Singapore in terms of medical facilities and costs. However, what bring it onto this list is the unimaginably low cost incurred on some of the most specialized medical tests. Malaysian hospitals have come up with the "well-man" and "well-woman" packages―two exclusive packages for men and women, which include detailed and low-cost physical and preventive care tests. The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council
was set up in 2009 by the Ministry of Health Malaysia. The primary aim of the council is to develop medical tourism in Malaysia and promote it as a healthcare hub.
Commonly Sought Diagnostic Procedures: Bone density scan, chest X-ray, and different blood tests.
Known the world over for being the sightseers' and foodies' paradise, India boasts of having a continuously flourishing medical tourism industry, estimated to be growing at the rate of 30% a year. India's major cities are home to a good number of top, high-end private hospitals that offer complex medical procedures and surgeries at a fraction of the cost incurred on similar procedures in Europe and America. The influx of medical tourists is constantly growing in India, with more and more Americans, Canadians, and Europeans opting for this destination.
Commonly Sought Procedures: Cardiac and orthopedic procedures, and Ayurveda.
Popular the world over for its stylish and up-to-date baths and spas, Hungary is also the hub of dentistry and dental treatments. The country boasts of having the highest number of dentist per capita in the world. And this trend can be seen not only in big cities, such as Budapest, but also in smaller, less populous settlements such as Mosonmagyaróvár. Numerous citizens of the European Union (and elsewhere), flock to Hungary, each year, to seek inexpensive dental treatments and procedures.
Commonly Sought Procedures: Cosmetic oral surgeries, full-mouth restorations, and implants.
2. Costa Rica
This Central American ecological gem also makes it onto the list of the most sought-after medical tourism destinations. Home to a large number of specialist, board-certified cosmetic surgeons and dentists, this tropical paradise attracts millions of international tourists each year, at least 15% of whom take advantage of the country's healthcare and medical services. Plus, its proximity to the US also makes it one of the top 5 medical tourism destinations for American citizens.
Commonly Sought Procedures: Cosmetic surgeries and dental care.
If you thought that Brazil is only about beaches and carnivals, it's time to do some more homework. Interestingly, this South American jewel is home to the highest number of practicing cosmetic surgeons per capita in the entire world, and it is needless to say that Brazil is much cheaper than the United States and Europe. Many medical tourists are often seen traveling to the smaller cities of the country, such as Santos and Porto Alegre, where the cost of medical facilities are even lower as compared to the bigger tourist hubs like Sao Paulo, etc.
Commonly Sought Procedures: Facelifts, tummy tucks, rhinoplasty, and breast augmentations.
Apart from the ones mentioned above, there are numerous other countries that offer cheaper and great medical facilities and treatments than those offered in some of the more expensive and developed nations. However, it needs to be noted that while choosing a destination for medical tourism, it is important to look beyond expenses. It is more advisable to look at the bigger picture, and inquire properly about the hospital's accreditation and the doctor's/surgeon's educational background and affiliations. Do remember that money is definitely important, but safety should not be ignored.