Medical Tourism Trends In The New Millenium
The movement of patients from highly developed countries to less developed ones to seek medical treatment is called medical tourism. In this process medical tourists bypass medical care in their own countries. Traditionally people have journeyed from less developed countries to more developed ones to seek superior medical services. Medical tourism is a reversal of this trend.
There are several types of treatments available to medical tourists. These include cosmetic surgeries, dental surgery, cardiac surgery and knee/hip replacements. Sometimes rare genetic disorders that are better treated in less developed countries account for medical tourism as well. Every type of health care is included in medical tourism – psychiatry, convalescent care as well as alternative treatments.
Reasons for Medical Tourism
The high cost of medical care in developed countries and its low cost in developing countries is the main reason for the growth of medical tourism. In addition international travel is quite affordable and the quality and standards of care in developed countries has improved leading to an increase in medical tourism. In addition the virtual absence of wait times in developing countries is another reason for medical tourism.
A liver transplant that costs $300,000 in the USA costs just 91,000 in Taiwan and such differences in price are a major reason for medical travel abroad. For countries that have public health care systems – these systems are often heavily taxed. It can take a lot of time to get non-urgent medical care in these countries. In Canada patients waited an average of 9.4 weeks for medical treatment in 2005
In the USA 75,000 people opted for medical tourism in 2007. A Deloitte Consulting report published in 2008 says that the number of medical tourists from the USA could jump by a factor of 10 in the next 10 years. This means that US health care providers would lose billions of dollars in revenue annually in the coming years.
Popular destinations for medical tourism include New Zealand, Ukraine, Tunisia, South Korea, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, South Africa, Singapore, The Philippines, Malaysia, Lithuania, Jordan, India, Hungary, Hong Kong, Costa Rica, Columbia, Cuba, Brunei and Argentina. Tourism destinations for cosmetic surgery include – Ukraine, Thailand, Turkey, Mexico, Cuba, Costa Rica, Columbia, Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina.
One new trend in medical tourism is reproductive tourism. This involves traveling to foreign countries for assisted reproductive technology involving freezing embryos for retro –production as well as surrogate pregnancy and in-vitro fertilization. Lab supplies for reproductive technology exist in plenty in developing countries. Health tourism providers today function as intermediaries between health tourists and medical organizations.
The Process of Health Tourism
Medical tourism usually begins with a prospect contacting a medical tourism provider. The patient provides a medical report on nature of ailment, medical history, local doctor’s opinion and allied information. Then various other things like choice of hospital and doctor as well as duration of stay in the host country are discussed. Consent bonds and agreements are then signed and an application is made for a medical visa.
Risks in Medical Tourism
There are certain risks involved in medical tourism that are not present within the structure of advanced countries. In some countries like Thailand, Malaysia and India the visitor faces the danger of various infectious diseases. These include paratyphoid, amoebic dysentery and Hepatitis A. In addition tuberculosis, influenza and diseases transmitted by mosquitoes pose a threat.
Traveling far immediately after treatment can pose its own problems. In addition post-operative care varies widely per hospital and country. Potential deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism are threats faced by medical tourists. In addition, facilities may lack an adequate way of dealing with complaints from medical tourists.
There are several legal and ethical issues that weigh down on medical tourists. However the benefits of medical tourism outweigh the risks and this has resulted in a huge jump in medical tourists from Europe and America to less developed countries with talented doctors. If you desire to avail of these facilities, type in “medical tourism” followed by the name of the country you wish to go to in Google search. You are bound to find an array of possibilities.
This is a guest-post by Ashley Williamson. Ashley is a part-time guest blogger and a health specialist. When she is not working she likes to travel to discover hidden untouched places around the World.