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Over 8 million people travel beyond their country’s borders every year in search of more affordable health care. This booming travel trend — known as medical tourism — is fueled by citizens who are unable to receive the health care they need or want in their home countries for an affordable price. And it’s not just prices that attracting millions of travelers, it’s a combination of better treatment, little or no waiting lists and the opportunity to heal in a relaxing environment away from the pressures of everyday life.
In 2012, Thailand welcomed over 1.2 million tourists for medical purposes according to Patients Beyond Borders. The Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok is one of the most well known hospitals in the world among medical tourists, and foreigners have been traveling to be treated in the hospital’s state-of-the-art facilities for over 20 years. Major healthcare procedures cost remarkably 50 to 70 percent less than in the United States, making the low prices and high-end facilities some of the biggest draws to Thailand’s hospitals.
Mexico’s low health care costs and close proximity to the United States and Canada have made it an ideal go-to destination for medical tourists for years. According to Patients Beyond Borders, the city of Monterrey is home to four first-class, American-accredited hospitals. The extremely low cost of dental care in Mexico also draws in well over 50,000 tourists each year.
With the cost of health care staggering between 65 and 90 percent less than in the U.S. and Canada, it’s no wonder that tourists are flying to India to save hundreds of thousands of dollars on major treatments. According to the Indian Medical Travel Association, a bypass surgery that typically runs between $75,000 to $140,000 in the U.S., will cost only $9,500 in India. The Fortis Hospital in Bangalore boasts state-of-the-art surgery options for medical tourists and works directly with western medical travel agents to help patients continue their follow-up care at home.
Singapore is one of the top medical travel destinations in the world, because of their sophisticated systems and world-renowned cancer treatment facilities. In 2012 alone, over 610,000 tourists headed to Singapore for medical treatments, according to Patients Beyond Borders. Singapore offers 22 healthcare facilities certified by Joint Commission International, making it one of the world’s highest-quality medical tourism destinations for a wide variety of healthcare needs.
Although many medical tourists travel abroad for major treatments, a large number of them travel for dental and cosmetic work. Brazil is packed with over 4,500 fully-licensed cosmetic surgeons, making it one of the most popular destinations in the world for cosmetic surgery. According to Patients Beyond Borders, the price of a nose job in Brazil is 60 percent less than the same procedure in the United States or Canada.
Turkey boasts some of the highest standards of health care in the world and is home to multiple world-renowned hospitals and medical care facilities including Anadolu Medical Center in Instanbul. Anadolu’s multilingual nurses and doctors cater directly to medical tourists, and with major procedures hovering around 60 percent less expensive than in the U.S. and waiting lists seemingly non-existent, it has become one of the world’s top medical tourism destinations.
The high cost of health care in the United States doesn’t seem to be holding back foreigners with deep pockets. According to Patients Beyond Borders, the United States health care system treats approximately 800,000 foreign patients every year. The world-renowned doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Mayo Clinics and other first-rate facilities attract medical tourists for top-end, specialized treatments.
Although many of Malaysia’s patients aren’t from Canada or the United States, it is an extremely popular destination for Indonesian travelers. The Patients Beyond Borders organization suggests that westerners are missing out on Malaysia’s incredibly affordable health care and fully-qualified, fluent English-speaking doctors and nurses. Kuala Lumpur and Penang are the top destinations in Malaysia for healthcare screenings including vision, hearing, dental, PET and MRI scans.