Medical tourism is where people travel abroad to receive medical treatments like cosmetic surgery, which they could not afford in their own country.
Those travelling abroad for such treatments usually come from developed countries, where treatments are very expensive. The UK and the US are two of the biggest markets. That said: wealthy people in countries with poor health sectors often travel to countries that offer better healthcare for major treatments.
When people travel abroad for medical treatments they have two main criteria: cost and quality of healthcare.
They are looking for a place that they can both get to and be treated in cheaply, but which has a top-class health sector so that they know they will be safe. Below are three destinations which meet the criteria for perfect medical tourism destinations, and as such are some of the most popular destinations with medical tourists.
Malaysia was recently found to be the most popular medical tourism destination with the growing numbers of Asia’s wealthiest. They travel to Malaysia for major treatments because it has one of the best health services in, not only Asia, but the world.
Malaysia is also one of the most popular destinations with those travelling from English speaking destinations (US and UK). This is because, as an ex-British colony there is a high prevalence of English speakers in the health sector. Tourism from the two combines to make Malaysia one of the fastest growing medical tourism destinations, and well worth a property investment tailored to that market.
Costa Rica is massively popular with American medical tourists. Costa Rica disbanded the military in 1980 because of the safety and stability of the country. This makes people feel safe about visiting the country, but it also freed up billions of dollars to spend on education on healthcare.
For that reason Costa Rica now has one of the best, and most efficient health sectors in the world. Of the top destinations Costa Rica is also among the cheapest for procedures, which makes it very popular with medical tourists from around the world including the UK.
India also benefits from cost effectiveness when it comes to medical tourism. People from around the world can afford surgeries and procedures in India that they would never be able to afford in the UK or even America. India is also an ex-British colony, and for that reason it has a developed, very efficient and safe health service, which again is a draw for medical tourists from abroad and within the region.
Brazil is fast growing into an economic giant, on the back of its massive production and agricultural sectors, and massive growth in the services sector fuelled in part by tourism growth. Though Brazil has been affected by the international downturn, it is a testament to its economic potential that its recession only lasted 2 quarters with growth resuming at 1.9% in Q2.
Over the years of economic growth, developing the infrastructure, including the health services has been a major priority of the government(s). The fact that it has been a success is testified to by FIFA choosing Brazil as host for the 2014 World Cup.
Yes, that’s right. America is a medical tourism destination. In fact it is one of the longest-standing medical tourism destinations in the world. That’s right: Brits have been taking advantage of the dollar exchange rate and travelling to America to get their bits tucked in or pushed out since the 80s.
America’s health service is first-rate. Brits trust it because it is on a par with the UK (please don’t start a politics debate), and procedures are just over half the price they would be in the UK — used to be half the price before the Pound plummeted.
Panama is also a popular destination with American medical tourists. Its economy grew by an average 10% every year for the last few years, and a lot of this increased revenue was invested in improving the infrastructure, including the health service. Now Panama has an excellent health service and — despite the dollarized economy — surgery is still cheaper than America.
Many Americans are also travelling to Mexico for cosmetic surgery on the cheap. While Mexico’s health service isn’t known for being world class, there are some decent surgeons and people are finding them through word of mouth. Of course there are some horror stories as well from Mexico, so don’t go unless you know.