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Medical tourism

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Medical tourism (also known as medical travel, health tourism, health travel or global healthcare) means traveling across the international border to receive health care.

The services obtained may be elective or medically-indicated procedures and may be simple dental procedures as well as complex orthopedic, cardiac or bariatric procedures. Also these may be as quick as lunchtime peels or be as lengthy as in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

Leisure activities are common on medical tourism trips.



The need for medical tourism arises due to high cost of health care, long wait times for some procedures and the unavailability of certain procedures in one's home country. The ease and affordability of international travel and improvements in both technology and standards of care in many countries have led to the increasing popularity of medical travel.


Popular medical tourism worldwide destinations include: India, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, The Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, UAE, Turkey, Hungary, Belgium, Poland, South Africa, Costa Rica, Panama, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico.

International healthcare accreditation

Quality is an important factor when it comes to health care. To show their commitment towards quality and to attract foreign patients many international healthcare providers today choose to obtain international healthcare accreditation.

In the United States, Joint Commission International (JCI) fulfills an accreditation role, while in the UK and Hong Kong, the Trent International Accreditation Scheme is a key player. The different international healthcare accreditation schemes vary in quality, size, cost, intent and the skill of their marketing. They also vary in terms of cost to hospitals and healthcare institutions using them.

Insurance companies and medical tourism

Insurance companies are seeing medical tourism as a tool to attract more customers through low monthly premium plans. Although the trend has not widely picked up in the insurance industry, some insurers are already using this service. Even with air travel, treatment and recovery costs factored into the overall price, insurers can experience a substantial reduction in medical expenses.

Employer-sponsored international health care

A few US employers have started offering incentives in their employee benefit packages such as paying for air travel and waiving out-of-pocket expenses for care outside of the US.

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