Global Medical Tourism Market is Expected to Reach $32.5 Billion by 2019

The global medical tourism market is expected to reach $32.5 billion by 2019. Emerging trends show that medical tourism is evolving. Niche middle classes are travelling to developed nations and choosing quality of healthcare, over cost. Dubai has announced plans to become the medical tourism global destination of choice by 2020. The city intends to build 22 hospitals to attract 500,000 medical tourists a year and boost its economy by up to Dh 2.6 billion.

Despite medical tourism includes all imaginable directions (ranging from surrogacy to organ transplantation), let’s consider the picture of medical tourism over an example of the cosmetic surgery. The top three countries performing medical and cosmetic surgery in particular procedures include the USA, Brazil and China. There can be a significant difference in costs for popular cosmetic surgery procedures. For example, the average price for breast implants in the USA is $10,000 compared to the same procedure in India and Colombia at $3,500 and $2,500 respectively.

For any patient travelling outside their home country for a cosmetic surgery procedure there are risks and safety concerns to consider. These include the varying standards of care in each country, travel risks after surgery, minimal legal recourse should anything go wrong and crucially the issue of aftercare.

What is interesting about the phenomenon of medical tourism and the cosmetic industry, is that traditionally patients in developed nations travelled for cheaper costing treatments to developing nations. That is now evolving. Take Australia as a case study example.

A burgeoning middle class from the Asia Pacific region are flying in for treatment due to Australia’s reputation for excellent standards of healthcare. For this particular demographic, high standards in healthcare far outweigh the cost of treatments. Over 10,000 medical tourism patients flew into Australia in 2013, injecting more than $26 million into the national economy. Compare this to 2006 where medical tourism was worth $12.7 million to the national economy. In seven years, the numbers have doubled and continue to grow.

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