The Evolution of Medical Tourism
In today's fast paced world, it's really important to keep an eye out for our health. Various problems are caused due to these lifestyle habits which affect our body causing 'health problems'.
Health typically refers to the relative state of a person in which he is able to function well physically, mentally and socially. It's every individual's duty to take utmost care of his health. Any person - rich or poor, needs to maintain good health for his well-being.
Medical tourism is the process of traveling across to another country solemnly for the purpose of receiving medical care. Even travelling to another city / state also comes under Medical Tourism, widely referred to as Domestic Medical Tourism. Medical tourism has increased by a significant amount from the 20th century to the 21st century.
The history of medical tourism could be dated back across to more than a thousand years. Ancient civilizations knew about the curing effects of Ayurveda, Unani, sacred temple baths, mineral thermal springs & other traditional medicine.
So, why is it such important in today's world? Well, there are only some reasons for that -
1. Unavailability of certain type of Medical Treatment
2. Cost of Treatment (High Costs)
3. Unavailability of Immediate Treatment
For dental surgeries, Mexico and Hungary are the most preferred destinations. Cosmetic surgeries are a hit in Brazil, Costa Rica, and Panama. Orthopedic and cardiovascular cases are preferred in India due to its state of the art facilities and the quality of doctors. Thailand boasts of having the best facilities for medical tourists (average) - from having great facilities to the cost of treatment.
Alongside having the required facilities, why do you think these countries are preferred by patients for their treatment. The answer is 'Cost.' You would be shocked to know that:
1. India provides various healthcare services at 10-20% of the U.S. cost. The cost of heart bypass surgery is approximate $6000-7000 in India compared to $130,000 in the USA, UK or Canada.
2. Heart Valve Replacement costs $10,000 in Thailand compared to $160,000 in the USA.
3. Hip replacement surgery costs $12,000 in Singapore compared to costs more than $25,000 in Europe.
4. Stem cell transplants cost about $70,000 in Hungary and Singapore compared to $250,000 in USA and Canada
Cost of various procedures in different countries 
Hence, one can conclude on what basis medical tourism has peaked so much in the past two decades. It has made life so much easier for so many of the patients, saving them a lot of money and offering them good medical treatment.
Risks of Medical Tourism
Now we all know that every coin has 2 sides and so similarly, medical tourism has positives as well as negatives (risks) -
1. Proper Communication: It’s obvious that when you are in a foreign country that is not familiar with your mother tongue, the first difficulty you will face is the challenge of communicating properly. Sometimes patients feel so lonely or alienated because they can’t share or speak with hospital staffs or other people around them
2. Hidden Charges: When the charges offered by a country are too good to believe, the chances are that they are hiding something. Hidden charges will leave you broke if you are using a major part of your life savings for their treatment. Always look out for complete package when you select a tourism package.
3. Adequate resting time Post-Surgery: Traveling long distances soon after surgery can increase the risk of complications.
4. Selection of Medical Tourism Company: This is one of the most important factors. You should always choose the right tourism company that suits your needs perfectly. Online reviews and testimonial will help a great deal in sorting out the best from the worst.
Thus, one should go for medical travel only after getting himself educated regarding - cost, type of treatment as well as potential risks that you could face. If all done well, medical tourism will be very advantageous.
1. 'Indian Healthcare Services', J.P. Morgan, 12 March, p2; 'Medical Tourism in India: Progress, Opportunities and Challenges', Madras School of Economics