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What is Medical Tourism?
Medical tourism refers to a foreign excursion made for the purpose of medical treatment. In early times, it used to be referred to the foreign trips made by ill people from the under-developed countries to well-developed countries for the advanced level health treatments. But now, people from well-developed countries also travel to developing countries for cheaper treatment options. Surgeries are most common medical treatments taken by patients in Medical Tourism. Other two most common treatments are Dental treatment and Fertility Treatment. People with rare conditions may travel to countries where the treatment is better understood. Medical tourism is also useful for infrequent medical conditions whose treatment is not available at home. In other words, medical tourism is the healthcare treatment taken by patient in abroad.
Factors that make medical tourism popular include high healthcare costs, long waiting times for certain procedures, the ease and affordability of international travel, and improvements in technology and standards of care in many countries. Avoiding waiting is a major driver of medical tourism in the United Kingdom, whereas in the United States the main driver is lower prices abroad. In addition, mortality varies greatly between industrialized countries. H. Great Britain versus seven other leading countries including the United States.
Many of the surgical procedures in medical tourism destinations cost a fraction of the costs they incur in other countries. For example, in the US, a liver transplant, which costs $ 300,000, usually costs about $ 91,000 in Taiwan. Convenience and speed are the main draws of medical tourism. Countries using public health systems often have long waiting times for certain operations. For example, approximately 782,936 Canadian patients spent an average of 9.4 weeks on medical waiting lists in 2005. Canada has also set a standard waiting time for non-patients. Emergency medical procedures, including a waiting period of 26 weeks for hip replacement and a waiting period of 16 weeks for cataract surgery.
In First World countries such as the United States, medical tourism has great growth prospects and has the potential to have a destabilizing effect. Estimates published in August 2008 by Deloitte Consulting estimated that US-based medical tourism could increase by ten factors over the next ten years. About 750,000 Americans went abroad for health care in 2007, and according to the report, 1.5 million will receive health care outside the United States in 2008. Growth in medical tourism could cost US healthcare providers billions of dollars in lost revenue.
A Harvard Business School body says that "medical tourism is being promoted more in the UK than in the United States".
In addition, some patients in some First World countries find that insurance does not cover orthopedic surgery (such as knee or hip replacements) or limits the choice of device, surgeon, or prosthesis to use.
Popular destinations for medical tourism around the world are: Oman, UAE, Canada, Cuba, Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, Israel, Jordan, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, USA.
Popular cosmetic surgery destinations are: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Turkey, Thailand and Ukraine. According to the Sociedad Boliviana de Cirugía Plástica y Reconstructiva, more than 70% of middle and upper class women have had plastic surgery. Other destinations are Belgium, Poland, Slovakia and South Africa.
Some people travel for assisted pregnancies such as in vitro fertilization or surrogacy or to freeze embryos for reverse production.
However, the perception of medical tourism is not always positive. In countries such as the United States, where quality standards are high, medical tourism is seen as a risk. In some parts of the world, broader policy issues may affect where medical tourists choose to receive medical care.
Medical tourism providers have emerged as intermediaries bringing potential medical tourists along with surgeons, hospitals and other organizations. In some cases, US surgeons have teamed up with medical tourism providers to travel to Mexico to treat American patients. It is hoped that hiring an American surgeon can allay fears of overseas travel and convince independent American employers to offer their workers this low-cost option to save money while ensuring quality care. Companies that focus on worthwhile medical tourism usually offer nurse managers to help patients with medical problems before and after the trip. They can also help provide resources for follow-up care after a patient returns.
The surrounding tourism also expands the health tourism area. Medical tourism is travel for the purpose of access to medical services that are legal in the destination country but illegal in the country of origin. This may include trips to view unapproved fertility treatments in your home country, abortion and doctor-assisted suicide. Abortion tourism is most widespread in Europe, where traveling between countries is relatively easy. Ireland and Poland, two European countries with very strict abortion laws, have the highest avoidance rates in tourism. In Poland in particular, an estimated 7,000 women travel to the UK each year, where abortion is free through the National Health Service. Independent organizations and doctors such as Women on the Wave are also working to help women circumvent the law to gain access to medical services. With Women on the Wave, the organization uses mobile clinics on board to perform medical abortions in international waters where flag state laws apply.
Dental tourism is a trip to cheaper dentistry or oral surgery. The same porcelain veneer made in a laboratory in Sweden can cost A $ 2500 in Australia but only A $ 1200 in India. The difference in price cannot be explained by material costs.