Health & Wellness Tourism: The Next Great Healthcare Frontier

The Next Great Healthcare Frontier

The Next Great Healthcare Frontier

Have you ever traveled faraway to an exotic land? Have you marveled at their geography, their culture or way of life? Countries such as Thailand, India, South Africa, Poland, and even Costa Rica & Croatia have hidden treasures of which you may not be aware - treasures that once discovered can change your life and your health forever. This is why Health & Wellness Tourism (or Medical Tourism) is becoming one of the fastest growing industries of the decade. The dual experiences of addressing the needs of your body, mind and soul in locations that offer the lure of foreign and mysterious locales is irresistible. Add lower costs for procedures, cutting edge technology and physicians of the highest caliber, and a healthy, new you is just a plane ticket away.

Some may believe that going outside of the United States for surgeries is risky business, but did you know that many of the most technologically advanced medical centers are located outside of the United States? The growing trend of attracting international patients around the world has evened the playing field, so to speak, and patients around the world have more choices when it comes to choosing surgeons and physicians to treat them and their conditions. Especially in the medical field, borders are dissolving.

People are traveling out of country and even to places within their own country to seek both modern and alternative health services. Places like Singapore, Thailand and India (famous for all surgeries such as orthopedics, heart, cosmetic), Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica and South Africa (cosmetic and dental) use modern technologies and procedures while offering world class treatment for less money. This is because in places such as the United States, doctors have to pay such outrageous rent, medical insurance and licensing fees that they have to hike up their prices just to make ends meet. In other countries the cost for these items is much less and therefore doctors can charge less for their procedures.

For example, a heart surgery requiring the replacement of one or more heart valves costs around $200,000 in the United States. The same procedure is performed for under $15,000 in India or Malaysia–that cost includes the services of a highly skilled and trained heart specialist, transportation and accommodation fees and a few extra days to enjoy the sites of your planned vacation as well. Other procedures follow suit. Facelifts can cost $20,000 in the U.S. but are available in other global destinations for around $2,500. Dental bridges cost around $5,500 in the U.S. but only around $200 in India. The list goes on.

Those living in countries that have socialized medicine must endure long wait times, procedures not being available and doctors and facilities that are becoming health factories. They do not give you the time and care they should because they are so overburdened. For those who are self-insured, traveling abroad for health care procedures becomes an affordable and attractive alternative that reduces out-of pocket expenses.

For the health tourist, a variety of procedures and treatments are available, meeting every health and wellness need from the most critical the most desired. Whether it’s aging Baby Boomers seeking medical spa treatments or cosmetic surgery or a person in critical need of an organ transplant, for the health tourist, the world is their oyster. In some instances, even medical insurance policy is being revised to cover some health tourism expenses.

Alternative medicine is a fast-growing component of health tourism. Centuries-old Ayurvedic and Eastern medicine remedies are happily traded for the Western drugs that are riddled with dire warnings of side effects. Holistic approaches that take the whole patient into consideration are gaining in popularity as overstressed, overworked people seek a balm to body and soul. Spas and alternative medicine centers around the world offer an affordable solution, and one that guarantees to revitalize and re-energize.

So, the next time you need that lasik surgery, those new dentures, that tummy tuck or you just want to pamper yourself, consider the benefits of health tourism: lower costs for procedures, highly skilled professionals, and best of all, the opportunity to see new and exotic places in this world.

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by: Pramod Goel

2008-08-13 / Updated on: 2022-03-22

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