India Receives a Growing Number of Medical Tourists
from Across the Globe
The rising healthcare costs in developed countries like the US, and improved standards of healthcare technology and services in nations like India and China will push the global medical tourism market to $32.5 billion by 2019, which will register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.9 per cent from 2013 to 2019, according to a research titled "Medical Tourism Market (India, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Mexico, Brazil, Taiwan, Turkey, South Korea, Costa Rica, Poland, the Philippines and Dubai)”. The research has been conducted by Transparency Market Research (TMR), a US-based market intelligence company, which has pegged the current medical tourism market at $10 billion.
Factors like ageing population, adoption of newer technologies, better exchange rates in the economy as a whole, better pricing for cosmetic surgeries and shorter waiting period for treatment push the case for its rise.
Many medical and surgical procedures are no longer covered by insurance, which has made it imperative for Americans to travel to foreign countries such as India, China, Malaysia, Thailand or South Korea to get exceptionally good medical services at affordable rates, which often match or even surpass the quality of healthcare available in US-based hospitals.
India ranks among top 3 medical tourism destinations in Asia
India is among the top 3 medical tourism destinations in Asia, mainly due to the low cost of treatment, quality healthcare infrastructure and availability of highly-skilled doctors, says a study.
India, Thailand and Singapore accounted for about 60 per cent of the total Asian revenue in 2012, the report Medical Value Travel in India by KPMG and FICCI said. The research was conducted in India and other Asian countries and interviewed public sector stakeholders and domestic company heads or CEOs of renowned hospitals between July and August 2014.
Estimated at $ 78.6 billion as of 2012, the sector has emerged as one of the largest sectors in India and is poised to grow at an annual rate of 15 per cent to reach about $ 158.2 billion by 2017.
In the past few years, Asia has taken the lead as one of the most preferred destination for medical value travel. Low priced treatment options, availability of variety of treatments, improved infrastructure in terms of healthcare facilities and attractive locations for spending time after treatment add to its growth.
India is known mostly for its cost-effective medical treatments along with high standards in cardiology, orthopaedics, nephrology, oncology and neuro surgery. The country is also known for its alternative treatment options such as yoga and ayurveda. A heart bypass surgery in India costs USD 6,500, while in the US it costs between USD 30,000 and USD 80,000. The leading destinations of medical tourism in India are Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, New Delhi, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra, the report said.
India's medical tourism sector has also evinced growing interest from patients from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries due to excellent treatment skills of Indian doctors and low cost. GCC's member states include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
India receives medical tourists from across the globe and scores over other countries in certain parameters like affordable hotels and cultural adaptability, but there is still a long way to go. To make India the most preferred destination for medical care there is a need to improve air connectivity, language interpretors, food options and less waiting time at airport, as these parameters help patients make a decision in choosing a destination for medical travel.