What Is Medical Tourism?

Going through any kind of operation is always stressful, whether for cosmetic or health purposes – so what better way to undertake a medical procedure than by combining it with a holiday? Yes this is what medical tourism is.

In 2009 around 60,000 UK patients travelled abroad in total – including 25,800 dental patients, 17,400 cosmetic surgery patients, and 16,800 for other surgery and treatments (source: Medical Tourism Survey 2008 by European Research specialists on behalf of Treatment Abroad).

Recent years have seen healthcare costs soar, and with the recession impacting on society’s spending habits, many people are looking for cheaper alternatives to local healthcare.  With several companies identifying this need for people to budget their lifestyle choices, an influx of medical agencies offering services from cosmetic enhancement to dental treatment have been set up across the globe to help those who cannot afford the healthcare in their own country. So when you travel out of your own country for medical purposes, you are on medical tourism.



An obvious advantage to having medical care abroad is the chance to go somewhere new, with many people choosing to stay home due to rising travel expenses.  But amalgamating surgery whilst being abroad allows people to both combine and justify the costs of being on holiday as well as medical fees.  Yet this is also a disadvantage; as being in a strange country with little to no knowledge of the local area as well as being going through a medical procedure at a lesser price abroad than at home can sound too good to be true.  So how can you ensure that the pros outweigh the cons?

Do Your Research Before Embarking On A Medical Tourism:

Ensure that you gather as much information as possible about what and where your surgical procedure entails.  Medical treatment practiced abroad may differ to your hometown, and pre/post care usually provided in your country may not be offered overseas; with some agencies represented by a salesman in place of a doctor when offering consultations.  Check that the dentist or surgeon is registered to their country’s equivalent of the General Dental Council (GDC) or General Medical Council (GMC), and seek out reviews of these medical professionals and the practices from other patients to see how highly they rank in regards to level of skill and type of implants used, etc.

Speak to your dentist or GP before proceeding with an operation.  Corrective work may be pricier than an initial blundered surgery, and although the NHS will help out in an emergency (i.e. an infected wound) they will not alter any unnecessary cosmetic work.  Always bear in mind the potential cost and bother legal action abroad may bring should the medical treatment fail to meet your expectations, for as a patient, you would be unable to sue the healthcare provider for medical malpractice.
Many people believe that taking out standard travel insurance will cover them in case of an emergency whilst abroad, but unfortunately that is not the case.  With exclusions including pre-existing conditions, nonemergency cosmetic and dentistry treatment, should anything go wrong uninsured travellers risk losing thousands of pounds – if not more. Surgical packages generally consist of flights and accommodation, but look out for hidden expenses such as visas, inoculations and food; as well as aftercare including maintenance and check-ups.

Environmental Impacts:

The biggest negative to any type of tourism is the environmental impact, and with the country catering for more tourists, deforestation is resorted to in order to build more hotels and facilities.  Having several tourists in the area also results in increased air emissions, noise, littering, as well as the method of transport travelling to and from the medical facility.

Local resources such as food and energy are stretched to their limit, especially if they are in short supply.  A natural resource such as water is affected as it is overused in places such as hotels for swimming pools, as well as drinking water; and the shortage and depravity of water results in it being massively wasted.

How You Can Help:

Should you choose to have surgery abroad, there are steps you can take to lessen the cost as well as reduce your impact on the environment.  Go direct to the surgery and pay for your own travel and accommodation – using a medical tourism facilitator usually causes more problems than solutions.  The quality of service may vary between them, there is usually a bias towards certain hospitals and locations, having a third party usually involves a greater chance of miscommunication, and inevitably, you may end up paying more.

Have You Ever Had A Treatment Or Surgery Abroad? 

Have you tried getting a treatment or surgery abroad? How were your experiences? What tips would you give to people looking for a treatment or surgery abroad?

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2 comments on “What Is Medical Tourism?
  1. hemen parekh says:

    Outsourcing Health-Care ?

    You may want to call it “ Medical Tourism “.

    Here are some interesting findings from a report by Frost & Sullivan :

    ? No. of Medical Tourists ( 2009 )…………………………. 3 millions
    ? Value of Medical Tourism ( 2010 ) ……………………$ 78.5 billion
    ? Value of Medical Tourism ( 2012 ) ……………………$ 100 billion
    ? Annual Growth Rate ………………………………………….20 % – 30 %
    ? Where do sick people go for health-care ?

    – Germany
    – Rest of Europe
    – Thailand
    – India
    – Malaysia

    ? What are the main reasons for outsourcing health-care ?

    – To avail latest medical procedures ………………40 % tourist
    – To acquire better health ………………………………32 % “
    – For immediate medical treatment ………………15 % “
    – For cheaper health care (as much as 80 %) 9 % “

    ? Amount spent on medical tourism by UAE citizens …$ 2 billion

    No wonder the city of Surat in India is called the “ Surrogate Motherhood Capital of the World “, offering surrogacy for as little as $ 4000 / – and a very liberal legal frame-work. Women of Surat are not taking away anybody’s jobs.

    With regards

    hemen Parekh

    Jobs for All = Peace on Earth

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