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Medical/ Health tourism in Asia: Gaining continuous momentum

Medical tourism in Asia has gained significant momentum in the recent past. To get a hint of the expected growth in medical tourism, consider this: leading travel facilitator, Abacus International estimates medical tourism in Asia to generate up to $4.4 billion by 2012 (reported in Newsweek in October 2006).
No longer are travelers content to include medical care as part of their regular vacation plans; an increasing segment of international travelers are intentionally crossing borders to receive medical care at lower costs, giving rise to this phenomenon of health tourism, where tourists combine high-quality health care with their international holiday plans.

In Asia, countries such as Thailand, Singapore, India & Indonesia are at the forefront of medical tourism, with several resorts catering exclusively to this segment of travelers. Not only do these 'health resorts' offer a luxury vacation, their patrons can avail of medical, dental or surgical treatments at about one-tenth of the cost of similar treatments in countries like the US or UK.

The reasons for the steady rise in medical tourism are not too hard to fathom:

  • High costs of medical, dental or surgical treatments in developed countries such as US and UK. According to an article published by ABC News in August 2006, an estimated 45 million Americans do not have health insurance cover, which means they have to either pay expensive hospital bills or compare costs of similar health care services in other countries in case of an accident or ill health.
  • Global dip in international air travel fares making traveling across continents economically viable.
  • Improved standard of medical facilities and expertise in medical treatments in developing economies at comparatively lower costs: access to world-class health and medical facilities, ease in global communication, internationally-trained doctors and surgeons practicing in these luxury health resorts make traveling to other destinations a suitable option.
  • Insurance plans often do not cover elective procedures such as cosmetic surgery, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), etc. which often force people to look for similar treatments internationally.
  • Public health care systems may require patients to wait for a long time before they are accorded the required medical care.

More about medical/health tourism

Medical tourism in Thailand.

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