What is Medical Tourism and Where Did it Originate? – While the so-called “medical tourism” market may have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus in 2020, it still achieved a cumulative value of around $44.8 billion during this time.
What’s more, this value will rise incrementally to $54.4 billion by the year 2022, in line with increased demand and a widespread relaxation of global lockdown measures.
But what exactly is medical tourism, and what are the risks associated with this burgeoning industry? Let’s find out.
What is Medical Tourism and Why is it on the Rise?
In simple terms, medical tourism is a term that describes seeking out any number of medical or dental treatments overseas, although it commonly refers to cosmetic procedures that may either be cheaper abroad or prohibited in the patient’s country of origin.
This market has bloomed in line with economic growth and diversification in the developing world, enabling many countries (such as South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, and India) to offer elective treatments at increasingly affordable prices.
While this also partially explains the rise of medical tourism during the last decade, this phenomenon must also be considered in the context of rising elective healthcare costs in the UK and the US. The issue is particularly pronounced in the states, where a private and insurance-driven healthcare system has made some surgeries simply unaffordable for a huge number of citizens.
Naturally, this has encouraged many to seek out treatments and elective surgeries overseas, while the relative success of medical tourism has only increased the number of people travelling incrementally over time.
What are the Risks and How to Cope When Things Go Wrong?
However, this isn’t to say that things can’t go wrong when engaging in medical tourism, particularly as some of the benefits of this practice can also be seen as negatives.
For example, many people seek out treatment overseas to bypass the rules and regulations that exist in their country of origin, but it’s important to note that such guidelines often exist for a reason.
More specifically, they’re usually designed to protect patients (both vulnerable and otherwise) from harm and attempting to negate these isn’t always the best idea.
Also, cheaper surgeons, doctors and nurses may lack the depth of training and experience as those in the UK or America, and in this case, reduced costs may be indicative of the level of service and after-care that you can expect to receive.
Remember, the complexities of insurance and changeable local laws may make it hard to pursue a medical negligence claim in the worst-case scenario, and even if you choose to proceed you should at least understand the risk that you’re taking.