Medical tourism is growing strong in Asia as everywhere else in the world. India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand are the Asian countries that are now picking-up the pace. Within the estimated $100 billion value of the worldwide medical tourism industry, Asia still has a modest share of $8.5 billion, which means there is room for improvement.
India and Thailand are the two Asian countries that have traditionally dominated the industry in the continent. Yet competitors like Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, are recognizing the industry’s potential.
They are implementing government-sponsored initiatives to promote development of the industry within their borders and with great results. We need not look further than for the past few years in Malaysia, where averaging annual compound growth rates have been of almost 30% and in Singapore 12%.
Factors that have driven patients to seek treatment outside of their home countries are so far high cost, long treatment waiting times, advances in medical technology (in countries such as Thailand), and lower costs for international air travel. Cost is the compelling consideration. The comparison results are quite startling.
Take the Heart Bypass surgery, for example. In 2011, in the US, the cost for this procedure was $144,000 while in India it was at 5200, Korea - $28,900, Thailand – $15,000 and in Malaysia $11,400.
The arrival of the Asian Economic Community (AEC) in late 2015 will further enhance the growth of medical tourism within the region, by facilitating the free flow of medical services and hence support medical tourism within the Asian community.