Medical tourism is the act of traveling to other nations to obtain medical, services. The concept medical tourism was initially coined by the travel agencies and the media as a catchall phrase to describe a fast growing industry where people travel to different nations to obtain medical services. Leisure aspect of traveling can be included on such a medical travel trip. It includes medical health care services (inclusive of elective procedure and complex specialized surgeries) like knee/hip replacement, heart surgery, dental procedures and different cosmetic surgery.
The idea of Medical Tourism is not a new one. The earliest recorded event of medical tourism dates back hundreds of years to when Greek pilgrims traveled from Mediterranean to the small place in the Saronic Gulf called Epidauria. This place was the sanctuary of the healing God Asklepios. Epidauria then became the original travel destination for medical tourism.
In the recent days, people would travel from all over the world to have surgery done in clinics in the United States; but, the changing political situation in the USA imposed unreasonable visa restrictions on many persons who in the past traveled with fewer restrictions (especially people from the Middle East). What emerged as a result of different factors, including the increasing cost of medical care service in the US, is a phenomenon which has insurance service providers, Third Party Administrators (TPA’s) and self-insured organization evaluating a future stake in a burgeoning industry that has yet to be fully developed. This event in health care service is similar to the longstanding practice of sending manufacturing and service jobs offshore. However, many analyzers are surprised by the fact that services provided by medical professionals are now going the way of other industries. Likewise, few industry analyzers have noted that medical tourism will result to a $10 billion industry by 2009. The advantage to foreign doctors and clinics is obvious, but the future difficulty to American medicine remains unclear and a matter of contention in the American medical service community.
A combination of large numbers of factors has led to the recent increase in popularity of medical tourism the huge cost of healthcare in industrialized nations, the ease and affordability of international travel, and the advancement of technology and standards of medical service in many countries of the world.
A big draw to medical tourism is the convenience in comparison to that of other countries. Few nations that operate from a public health care systems are so taxed that it can take a long time, to get required medical care. The time duration spent for waiting for a procedure, such as a hip replacement, may be a year or more in Britain and Canada; however, in Singapore, Bangkok, Manila, Philippines or Bangalore, a patient may have their operation on the same day of their arrival. Additionally, many peoples are finding that insurance coverage either does not cover orthopedic surgery or charges unreasonable restrictions on the choice of the facility, surgeon or prosthetics to be used within the United States. Medical tourism for knee or hip replacements has came as one of the most widely accepted procedures because of the least cost and minimum difficulties concerned with traveling to and from the surgery. Colombia offers a knee replacement for about $5000 USD including all associated charges like FDA approved prosthetics and hospital stay over expenses.
Idea pushing medical traveling assumes lower health care services fess as well as the search for medical experts, quality of care, safety, and waiting times. In he nation Canada, the number of procedures in 2005 for which patients were waiting was 782,936. Again, in the same year, Canada recorded the highest level of health spending in its history.
As per the research found in an article by the University of Delaware publication, the cost of surgery in Bolivia, Argentina, India, Thailand, Colombia, Philippines can be one tenth of what it is in the United States and sometimes even less. A heart valve replacement that would cost US$200,000 or more in the U.S., for example, goes for $10,000 in the India and that also includes round trip airfare and a vacation package. Similarly, a metal free dental bridge costs $5,500 in the U.S. and $500 in India and only $200 in the Philippines, a knee replacement in Thailand with six days of physical therapy charges about one fifth of what it would be in the States, and Lasik eye surgery costs $3,700 in the U.S. is available in many other countries for only $730.
Medical tourists may come from any parts of the world and may seek necessary health care services such as cancer treatment and brain and transplant surgery as well as complementary or ‘elective’ services like aesthetic treatments. While the medical tourism component might be a huge draw for few Southeast Asia nation that focus on simple procedures. India is positioning itself the primary medical tourism destination for the most complex medical procedures in the world.