May 19, 2016
Over the last decade, medical tourism has rapidly established itself as a prime recourse for patients in US, seeking medical advice and treatment. The treatment may or may not be available locally. A startling fact though, is the sheer number of Americans who have travelled abroad for this purpose, estimated at 1.2 million citizens, according to a survey conducted by OECD.
The medical tourism market has an estimated value of USD 38.5-55 billion, with each patient spending an average of 3000-5000 USD, per trip abroad. The number of medical tourist is increasing steadily, and unsurprisingly.
Here are 4 reasons why medical tourism is not likely to fizzle away in the States, any time soon.
Even before outbound medical tourism, residents of the USA would go to Mexico for dental treatments that were almost half the cost of treatment in their home country.
Financial factor is usually the primary motivation for a patient to opt for treatment in another country. Patients from US save upto 35%-60% of the cost of the treatment in domestic hospitals, including travel and accommodation costs. In certain countries like India or Malaysia, the savings are even higher, between 65%-85%.
Thanks to increased global networking and hospital accreditation, the facilities provided in second world countries are similar in quality, and it is thus natural for patients to choose the option that is easier on their wallet.
Flawed Insurance System
The US healthcare sector prides itself on the health insurance terms they’ve established for years now, but statistics paint a wildly different picture.
27% of US citizens do not have insurance, while 10 million insured citizens, aged between 19-64 have debts in spite of insurance. Nearly 56 million people in the same age category have considerable trouble, paying the bills. Other countries offering cheap treatment and special tourism packages provide for a much more tempting choice for patients.
Expertise and Technology
Most hospitals abroad employ skilled and successful medical practitioners and numerous doctors and surgeons there, are associated with prominent institutes like Johns Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic etc.
The use of revolutionary technology, made available by countries like Japan and Taiwan is rapidly being favoured by patients, in contrast to the relatively stagnant technology in the USA.
Variety of Options for Treatment
The most popular destinations for traditional healing are India, Africa, Australia and Hawaii.
A large percentage medical tourists also have shown keen interest in traditional healing methods and alternative medicinal practices, native to their home country. Be it Ayurveda in India, Reiki in Japan or simple traditional spring baths and wellness centers in the Middle East, alternative medicine market has always enjoyed consumer inclination and is not likely to be replicated by US health care, in the near future.
The domestic health care sector of US is nowhere near as comprehensive, systematic and economically efficient as most other countries, which have established strong roots in medical tourism. and that is without even considering the significant advantage many of these countries have in the form of tourist destinations. This primary factor ensures that medical tourism in US is going to witness massive growth in the coming years.