The term medical tourism is generally used for the practice of getting proper health care abroad at a fraction of the cost prevailing at the country of residence without compromising the quality of medical treatment.
Medical tourism is also known as health tourism, global health care and medical travel. Of late it had gained popularity due to long waiting periods for certain types of health care, the high cost involved, the improvements in the standard and technology of the medical facilities available cheaply abroad and the affordable international travel.
This has prompted many companies to consider the many cheaper options available for employee medical care. Some of these companies even pay for the air fare and other incentives to encourage their employees to avail cheap health care abroad.
Some of the countries suitable for medical travel are India, Jordan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Argentina, Brunei, Cuba, Columbia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, South Korea, Tunisia and New Zealand. All treatments including complex specialized surgeries such as joint replacement (knee/hip), cardiac surgery, dental surgery, and cosmetic surgeries are available at cheaper rates. Virtually every type of health care, such as psychiatry, alternative treatments, and convalescent care is available. The first benefit is that one can get quality health care. These foreign hospitals are staffed by doctors who are US or UK educated and are well qualified. These are chosen medical facilities that have JCI accreditation and so give quality health care to the patients with hospitality, professionalism and safety.
They have modern medical equipments to diagnose and treat patients on par with US hospitals. Besides, the governments of these countries spend billions of dollars on these facilities since medical tourism is a good foreign exchange earner. So hence they have a vested interest in improving the quality of these facilities which benefits the medical tourism.
The second most important advantage is the cost savings which is about 70% of the cost of having the treatment in the US. For instance the cost of surgery in India is ten times less than what it is in US. In India a heart valve transplant costs only $10000 where as in US the cost for the same is $200000.A metal free dental bridge costs $500 in India but the same one costs about $5500 in the US.
The third advantage is that the waiting period is less, compared to western countries. The western medical facilities are stretched beyond their capacity due to the large number of patients, resulting in increased waiting period. This causes delay in treating the patient which may prove to be harmful especially for those who are waiting for a transplant.