The Growth of Medical Tourism 3


This is a multi-part story over 3 days. Take me to the beginning.

Trends in Medical and Dental Tourism

Patients Beyond Borders, a publisher of guidebooks for "medical tourists" estimates that more than 20 million people will travel to another country for medical treatment this year, up 25% from 16 million last year. Meanwhile, a 2016 report by Visa estimated that the medical tourism industry was worth $50bn a year, and continuing to grow.

In fact according to Deloitte medical tourism has been growing at 10% per annum or greater for the past 15 years. BCC Research predicts that double digit growth is expected to continue for at least another five years with destinations like Mexico, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, UAE, and Costa Rica leading the popularity charts.

But it's not just a migration of US medical consumers to these locations. Its a global trend of Americans and Europeans looking to cut costs and avoid wait times on one side, and the super wealthy in developing nations like Saudi Arabia, China and India in search of specialist treatments not available in their own countries going the other way. The migration for services is both global and regional. Many Californians and Arizonans head south to Mexico to visit the dentist or pick up prescriptions. The same is true in the northern US states with trips to Canadian pharmacies and healthcare providers. The growth in demand for medical tourism is fueling major investments in healthcare, not just in towns close to US borders, but across the world in cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi as I reported on in 2017 from the UAE which benefit from an influx of patients from Saudi Arabia and other gulf states as well as from Europe and the United States.

Despite its free National Health System, many UK residents are avoiding long wait lists for consults and procedures and traveling overseas for medical and dental treatment for less than half of private treatment at home. This includes cosmetic surgery and other treatments not covered under the NHS.

Medigo, a German-based medical travel company says that queries from UK residents jumped 53% last year. Official figures from the UK's Office of National Statistics also show that a rising number of people are going abroad for treatment.

The trend is similar in the US where the number of American health tourists goes up every year. About 422,000 traveled outside of the country for medical and dental procedures in 2017 according to the US National Travel and Tourism Office. That is up from 295,383 in 2000.

These figures exclude the massive and rising number of Americans who drive across the both US boarders each day, to get their prescriptions filled rather than pay the unregulated and exorbitant prescription drug prices in the United States.

As the number of uninsured Americans continues to climb, it seems more than likely that high deductibles and reductions in insurance coverage are pushing more Americans to search elsewhere for affordable medical and dental care. With more attacks underway against the US Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as 'Obamacare', and employers increasingly shifting healthcare costs to employees, medical tourism looks to become a key facet of most people's future healthcare and dental care.

Read the entire story:

See also my post on health tourism and cybersecurity in the United Arab Emirates

Read also this article in the New York Times about US companies that are paying their covered plan participants to travel to Mexico and Costa Rica for elective surgery - with American surgeons.


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