Author: Renée-Marie Stephano
As the cost of healthcare in the US continues to rise, many citizens and residents are in a continuous search for destinations outside the country where they can receive quality healthcare at a much lower rate.
In 2016, over 11 million travelers left the shores of the US in search of different countries around the world seeking affordable healthcare. In a recent report by Visa and Oxford Economics, it was stated that this figure will grow by up to 25% every year for the next decade as the competition for health tourists between countries have becomes fiercer.
Medical procedures ranging from cosmetic surgery, dental work, to orthopedic surgery can now be provided at high quality and affordable rates in many countries. As listed by Healthy Travel Media, publisher of Patients Beyond Borders, here are the top 10 medical tourism destinations around the world.
India is one of the key players in the medical tourism industry as it strives to provide health care services with cutting-edge technology. Healthcare in India saves patients between 65% to 90% of money compared to the cost of similar service in the US, making India one of the most visited countries for health care.
Patients visit India not only for the quality and affordability of healthcare service but also for the beautiful scenery and architecture in India’s landscape. In India, medical travel brings a mix of pleasure, luxury, and quality healthcare for medical travelers.
Many hospitals in India are accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) and Joint Commission International (JCI). Some private hospitals in India now provide health care packages for foreign patients which offer pick-ups from the airport to the hospital, free in-room Wi-Fi, and private chefs.
Additionally, in India, there is close to zero waiting time, as scheduling surgery or intervention is done quickly once the diagnosis is confirmed.
The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that Brazil ranks as the best in healthcare delivery in Latin America. Brazil has 43 hospitals accredited by the JCI and it boasts of having world-renowned surgeons.
Brazil is the hub of cosmetic and plastic surgery, being the third most visited country, below US and China, for patients needing those procedures. Brazil offers high quality cosmetic and plastic surgical services at affordable rates, drawing more and more health travelers to the country.
Florianopolis and Sao Paulo are two cities in Brazil best known for cutting-edge medical technology, medical advances, and innovation.
Brazil is also a favorite for patients who seek special procedures such as the Brazilian butt-lift or other specialty services from world-renowned surgeons. Health travelers from the US save 20% to 30% on health cost if they receive their health treatment in Brazil.
Malaysia has won the number one spot in the International Medical Travel Journal’s award for “Health and Medical Tourism Destination of the year” in 2015 and 2016. Malaysia ranks among the best providers of healthcare in all of South-East Asia.
Health travelers who visit Malaysia save 65% to 80% on health cost compared to the cost in the US.
Malaysia offers excellent patient comfort with five-star rooms that look more like hotel suites than hospital rooms. In Prince Court Medical Centre, for example, there are indoor pools for hydrotherapy. How exquisite!
At both Penang international airports and Kuala Lumpur airports, is the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) which provide lounge and concierge services to medical tourists to ensure their comfort from the very minute they arrive in Malaysia.
Thailand is well known for its unique hospitality and exotic beaches. Having the highest number of internationally accredited hospitals in South-East Asia, Thailand draws a good number of medical travelers each year.
Thailand is most reputed for advanced dental work as well as cosmetic and dermatological procedures. Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok, accredited by Global Health Accreditation for medical services, is one of the best hospitals in Thailand, providing advanced healthcare services to over 400,000 medical tourists annually.
The rich culture and beauty of Thailand also afford patients private recovery gardens, Thai massage and other forms of relaxation therapies Thailand is known for. Medical services in Thailand saves a patient 50% to 75% on medical expenses they would have incurred for similar services in the US.
Turkey is a strong contender in the medical tourism market. Turkey boasts of zero waiting times, affordable and quality healthcare delivery. Specifically, in the areas of transplant surgery, radiation therapy for cancer, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, and genomic medicine.
What’s more? The country’s national carrier, Turkish Airlines, offers flight rates at discounted prices to medical travelers. Cost of receiving quality healthcare in Turkey is 50% to 65% lower in Turkey than in the United States.
Mexico is well known for its rich culture, delicious cuisine, and its good taste for art. Mexico has since opened its doors widely to medical travelers from around the world.
Mexico has 98 hospitals accredited by the country’s Federal Health Ministry and 7 hospitals which are JCI-accredited. Mexico is most reputed for advanced care in dentistry and cosmetic surgery. Medical care in Mexico saves a patient 40% to 65% compared to the cost of similar services in the US.
As Costa Rica rebuilds its economy following the damage that was done by the Tropical Storm some months ago, it is fast rising as a leader in the medical tourism market.
This Central American country has ranked high in dentistry and cosmetic surgery, above Canada and US, consistently in the last few years. The country is also building a name in the fields of eye surgery, cancer therapy, and bariatric surgery.
The CheTica Ranch located in San Jose provides exotic recovery retreats for medical travelers for patients who relish recovery in a relaxing ambiance. This ranch is also staffed with highly-trained nurses to cater to the medical needs of these patients as they recover.
Cost of healthcare services in Costa Rica is 45% to 65% lower than in the US, saving patients a lot of money.
Taiwan has experienced gradual expansion in medical tourism in recent years. With advances in the treatment of cardiac diseases and orthopedic conditions in the country, Taiwan is on the verge of becoming a hub in these medical fields.
Taiwan boasts as the first in kidney transplant in Asia. The National Taiwan University Hospital, where the procedure was performed, provides affordable and high-quality treatment for medical tourists.
Also, the first ever pediatric liver transplant in Asia was performed by surgeons at the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, where over 400 of such procedures have been done so far.
Patients generally save 40% to 55% in healthcare cost in Taiwan compared to the cost of similar services in the United States.
South Korea is one of the most tech-savvy and technologically advanced countries in the world. In South Korea, patients receive advanced healthcare services with cutting-edge technology from well-trained staff.
The Wooridul Spine Hospital in Seoul ranks at the top in minimally-invasive spinal surgery in the country, performing over 20,000 of such procedures annually. This hospital provides exquisite accommodation with spacious rooms, a personal computer, and two beds in case a travel companion comes along with the patient.
Another reason medical tourists are attracted to South Korea is the insurance coverage offered to medical tourists. The insurance covers injury, stress disorders, and death of a patient which occur as a result of the procedures or treatment they receive.
South Korea reduces health cost by 30% to 45% for patients, compared to cost in the United States.
Singapore is one of the most developed countries in the world, maintaining the top spot in the World Health Organization’s ranking of healthcare in Asian countries. According to Bloomberg, Singapore ranked at the top of countries with the most efficient healthcare systems in 2014, above 50 other countries.
Gleneagles Hospital is one of the best hospitals in Singapore, offering excellent medical services state-of-the-art facilities and well-trained specialists.
Seeking health care in Singapore saves a patient 25% to 40% of what they would have spent on the same services in the United States.
As the medical tourism market becomes more competitive and countries invest more in it, these countries are likely to remain at the top while more countries spring up in the race to being key players in the industry of medical travel.
Patients seeking medical treatment abroad should not look far away from these countries, as each promises quality care and a relaxing ambiance at an affordable cost. However, patients are advised to make adequate research on the countries and hospitals they seek to visit for treatment checking for international accreditation of the hospitals, quality and standard of care provided, and the skills of the needed medical professionals.