Medical tourism is rapidly growing, and the industry is now worth an estimated $100 billion. Foreign travelers benefit from the industry's growth by gaining access to inexpensive health care, while host countries see economic benefits that have a positive effect on both skilled and unskilled trades. The following five medical tourism destinations are the most popular for medical tourists, but also present the most benefits for foreign investors.
Costs for medical procedures in this Central-American country are significantly lower than those in the United States. On average, patients can save between 40 and 70 percent on health care costs by pursuing treatments in Panama, and travel costs to the country are generally inexpensive from the United States.
Panama is also relatively safe, quite “Americanized” and uses the US dollar as official currency. Medical tourists are not likely to experience much culture shock in the country, and many physicians have been trained in the United States.
An international mecca for plastic and cosmetic procedures, Brazil boasts a high quality of service coupled with comparatively low costs. General medical treatments are also sought after by foreigners. The country has more hospitals than any other country in the world except for the United States, and many are accredited by American organizations.
The medical tourism industry has boomed in Malaysia in the last decade. Today, more than 400,000 foreign patients visit the country each year, bringing in more than $60 million in revenues. The number of medical tourists in the country is expected to grow by at least 30 percent a year for the next decade.
The wide array of medical treatments available in the country are available at very low costs compared to the United States. For instance, a cardiac bypass surgery, which can cost upwards of $100,000 in the United States, is available in Malaysia for as little as $7,000.
Like Panama, this Central-American country has become a popular destination for medical tourists because of its high-quality medical care and affordable prices. In 2006, over 150,000 medical tourists sought care in the country, including plastic surgery and dental work. The country's political stability and easy access from the United States also make it a premier destination for patients.
India offers one of the highest qualities of health care at some of the lowest costs. Many Indian hospitals are internationally accredited, and the medical tourism sector is growing rapidly. In 2005, more than half a million foreign patients sought care in the country, bringing in more than $2 billion per year. Many patients travel to India for orthopedic and cardiac procedures, and some seek out treatments that are not available in the United States, like Birmingham hip resurfacing.