Traveling abroad for medical treatment has increasingly been the healthcare solution for many Americans over the past decade as healthcare costs in the US have risen and bordering country Mexico often offers 50% savings on the cost of healthcare. The medical tourism industry has also been given a significant boost in the last five years with a drastic rise in the number of European and British patients turning their backs on national healthcare systems in favor of treatment abroad. It is estimated that over thirty countries in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe are providing medical tourism options to international patients and more than 1 million patients cross borders for medical care annually.
The reasons for medical tourism are vast: patients travel for cheaper treatment, advanced medical treatment options, reducing waiting times and broader surgery options. Patients traveling abroad for surgery also benefit from an increased level of privacy by having procedures away from home.
Plastic surgery, infertility treatment and dental care are the most sought after medical treatments abroad; increasingly patients are travelling for eye care, cardiology treatments and weight loss surgery procedures.
Destinations for medical treatment abroad change and experience surges in popularity according to medical advances, economical factors and the demographics of patients travelling. Below are destinations expected to receive vast numbers of medical tourists in 2010 for plastic surgery, infertility treatment and opthalmology care.
In 2010, the number of patients traveling abroad for plastic surgery is expected to increase as the global economy improves. Popular plastic surgery locations such as Mexico, Costa Rica and Brazil will continue to draw patients from America while European patients will continue to favour Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey for quality, low cost plastic surgery.
Rising plastic surgery medical tourism destinations in 2010 are expected to be India and the United Emirates, with an increasing number of patients also travelling to Poland for plastic surgery. India is renowned for being a world leader in plastic surgery procedures. The low costs of surgery combined with flexible travel options are attracting more patients to India for plastic surgery. Dubai is rapidly becoming the destination of choice for Middle East patients and patients traveling from Europe and the USA who want to combine luxury with a cosmetic procedure. Plastic surgeons in Dubai are some of the more experienced in the world and resorts and hotels in the United Emirates offer patients a luxurious option for recovering post-surgery. The rising numbers of patients traveling to Poland are traveling from Europe, in particular the UK. Reduced costs, surgeons who speak English, reduced waiting times and the convenience of travel all combine to make poland an ideal location for plastic surgery patients traveling from the UK.
Infertility treatment is a complex procedure and patients undergoing IVF cycles need to be able to relax throughout the process to ensure the highest rates of success. Traveling abroad for IVF often allows patients to relax more as the strain of financing infertility treatment is reduced, couples are in privacy as they receive treatment and the options available to patients suffering from infertility are often wider outside of the UK and USA as fewer restrictions apply on medically approved infertility treatments.
The top location for American patients seeking infertility treatment is Mexico, in particular Cancun. Mexico is located a few hours from most US cities meaning patients can freely travel between appointments, infertility treatment options such as egg donation are less restricted than in many USA states and many fertility clinics in Mexico will often provide treatment to women in their late 40’s, considered to be too old for treatment in the USA yet within the limits for medically approved IVF. For many American patients, infertility treatment in the USA is too expensive; traveling to Mexico for IVF can save up to 50% on the cost of infertility treatment and reduce the financial pressure of the process.
For patients within Europe and the UK, national health service restrictions and long waiting times are the major factors for patients traveling abroad for IVF. In recent years, Turkey, Greece and the Ukraine have been popular destinations. Infertility specialists in these countries provide international standard infertility treatments, utilising the latest methods and techniques to aid conception at a considerably lower cost and within less time. For a majority of women who seek infertility treatment abroad, age related infertility is the reason. Delaying infertility treatment can further complicate the infertility problem and leave women with fewer options. An emerging destination for infertility treatment is Cyprus. Cyprus is located close to mainland Europe and the UK and patients can travel to Cyrpus relatively low cost. Infertility clinics in Cyprus offer some of the most advanced infertility treatment options, including IVM and provide additional services which may be restricted or inhibitively expensive in the patients home country. Many patients travel to Cyprus for IVF with egg donation and for gender selection to either identify genetic chromosonal disorders or select the sex of the baby. Infertility specialists in Cyprus offer patients traveling abroad for IVF guidance throughout the process and collaborate with a patients doctor in the home country if necessary.
Major advances have been made in opthalmological treatment in the past 10 years. Patients suffering from vision impairment problems forcing them to wear glasses or contact lenses are now able to correct vision permanently with laser eye surgery. Unfortunately, laser eye surgery can often be prohibitively expensive. Many patients choose to travel abroad for corrective laser eye surgery as the costs are significantly reduced.
Eye problems are a growing concern as people age. Once an eye condition is diagnosed, the sooner a patient receives treatment, the less likely any lasting damage to vision will occur. A secind factor in the increase of medical tourists for eye care is the long waiting lists for eye surgery, which is a particular problem for European patients. Patients from the UK often travel abroad for surgery to reduce waiting times for cataract surgery procedures or glaucoma treatment.
A third factor in traveling abroad for opthalmology care is to receive enhanced treatment. Equipment to provide corrective eye surgery is often expensive and few hospitals can afford to implement the latest advances. Many patients travel abroad for eye surgery to receive the most advanced treatment at a specialist eye clinic.
Turkey and Spain continue to be the popular destinations for eye surgery abroad in 2010, and USA patients continue to seek opthalmological care in Mexico.