Increased sophistication of medical tourism operations, demand for cosmetic surgery, and access to low-cost global transportation are major factors for growth in cosmetic surgery abroad Patients are traveling because of the high quality of healthcare, access to expertise, affordability, improved availability, and enhanced overall experience. Tourism packages make the entire offer more attractive to people who are interested to travel for their healthcare. This model offers substantial savings, even after travel expenses, and represents another mechanism of “value” for purchasers of health care services.[i] Medical Tourism is emerging globally as an ideal solution for demanding patients. Factors that have led to the increasing popularity of medical travel include the high cost of health care in many countries, long wait times for certain procedures, the ease and affordability of technology and international travel, and excellent standards of care in numerous countries.[ii], [iii]
In the United States, where medical tourism has become very popular, the main reason is cheaper prices abroad. Medical Tourism is a timely option for U.S. consumers as the impact of dramatically rising U.S. health care costs and a struggling economy is felt in every household and by every company. As patients are exposed to greater financial burdens resulting from higher costs, they are seeking superior value alternatives through medical tourism. As medical treatment costs in the United States balloon out of proportion, more and more patients are finding the prospect of international travel for medical care increasingly appealing. 40% of respondents of a major survey said they would be interested in pursuing treatment abroad if quality was comparable with cost savings. [iv] A forecast published in August 2008 projected that outbound medical tourism originating in the US is expected to experience explosive growth and could jump by a factor of ten over the next decade. [v]
An estimated 800,000 Americans went abroad for health care in 2010, and the report projected that outbound medical tourism could reach upwards of 1.6 million patients by 2012, with sustainable annual growth of 35 percent.[vi],[vii]Countries such as Canada and the UK that operate public health-care systems are often so taxed that it can take considerable time to get non-urgent medical care. 30,000 Britons pack their bags and head off abroad each year for cosmetic plastic surgery. Affordable cosmetic surgery is one of the top choices for these medical tourists.Patients from emerging economies such as Russia, India, China, the Middle East are traveling overseas for care they perceive as superior to what is available in their own countries. Physicians and surgeons trained in Western countries are regarded as the best in the world, and patients with financial resources are willing to travel for quality and confidence. There is also glamour and exclusivity to obtaining quality cosmetic surgery overseas, and the experience is heightened when combined with a fantastic and comfortable setting to discretely recover.Medical care in Colombia is highly advanced and can cost significantly less than the same level of care in the United States. Numerous factors help providers in medical tourist destinations reduce the costs of treatment. These include lower employee costs, less cost associated with malpractice litigation and insurance, decreased overhead and facility fees, and limited involvement of third party payers. These care alternatives can encompass a mini-vacation as well, and the superior value to consumers has resulted in dramatically increased patient interest in medical tourism. The overall price is remarkably lower for a variety of cosmetic plastic surgery procedures in Colombia, even after including airfare, accommodation in a resort hotel, and 24-hour personal service.
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[i] Medical Tourism: Updates and Implications (Deloitte 2009)[ii] Laurie Goering, "For big surgery, Delhi is dealing," The Chicago Tribune, March 28, 2008.[iii] Linda A. Johnson, "Americans look abroad to save on health care: Medical tourism could jump tenfold in next decade," The San Francisco Chronicle, August 3, 2008[iv]http://www.deloitte.com/dtt/article/0%2C1002%2Ccid%25253D192707%2C00.html[v] Survey of Health Care Consumers (Deloitte 2008)[vi] Baliga H. “Medical tourism is the new wave of outsourcing from India,” India Daily, Dec 23, 2006. Available at: www.indiadaily.com/editorial/14858.asp[vii] Horowitz MD and Rosensweig JA. “Medical Tourism – Health Care in the Global Economy,” The Physician Executive, Nov/Dec 2007
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