The increasing number of people travelling abroad to seek medical treatment comprises a rising global trend. The exponentially rising healthcare cost in developed regions, coupled with the availability of advanced yet cost-effective medical services in developing countries, is encouraging people to travel abroad for treatment purposes that may also incorporate an extended holiday. This trend is called medical tourism and has been showcasing definitive growth around the world over the past few years.
Demand for Advanced and Cost-effective Medical Services Boosts Global Medical Tourism Market
Medical tourism may include sophisticated treatments such as neurosurgery, cardiac surgery, orthopedics, elective treatments such as cosmetic surgeries and dental care, or routine health check-ups. The visibly rising cost of healthcare services in developed countries is the prime factor bolstering the market for medical tourism. According to a report published by Transparency Market Research, approximately 50 million people in the U.S. alone are uninsured, while 139 million Americans do not have dental insurance.
An estimated 1.6 million Americans opted for medical tourism in 2012, since the treatment for the same disease in developing nations costs 20% to 30% less than that in developed countries. This helps patients and their families save a substantial share of the cost even after accounting for the travel expenses.
The global medical tourism market, therefore, sees lucrative opportunities in the forthcoming years with an increasing number of people making it their preferred choice. Transparency Market Research, in its latest report, pegs the overall value of the global medical tourism market at US$10.5 bn in 2012, and it is expected to reach US$32.5 bn by the end of 2019. If the figures hold true, the global medical tourism market will exhibit an impressive CAGR of 17.9% between 2013 and 2018.
Asian Countries Witness Highest Influx of Medical Tourists
With high-quality infrastructure and low costs, Asian countries have emerged as the most prominent players in the market for medical tourism over the past few years. Asia attracted over 5.6 million foreign patients in 2012, generating a revenue of a whopping US$6.4 bn from medical tourism. The presence of popular tourist destinations in this region has also contributed to attracting an increasing number of people from abroad.
India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan are among the Asian countries that witness the highest number of people travelling from abroad to seek medical services. For instance, Thailand has emerged as the most popular destination for medical tourists from Western Europe for cosmetic surgeries. In 2012, Thailand received over 2.5 million foreign patients that accounts for almost 45% of the total number of foreign arrivals in Asia. Likewise, India and Singapore specialize in complex procedures such as cardiac surgeries. In the meantime, Malaysia also has been attracting a large number of medical tourists due to the presence of a modern healthcare infrastructure.
Favorable Government Policies May Boost Global Medical Tourism Market
The medical tourism market is still in a nascent stage and requires substantial coordination among healthcare providers, insurers, and governments to enjoy sustainable growth in the near future. With favorable government policies, the organizations operating in the market can enjoy a competitive advantage. Some of the most prominent names operating in this industry include Bumrungrad Hospital, Apollo Enterprise Ltd, Bangkok Medical Center, Prince Court Medical Center, Raffles Medical Group, and others.