Traveling Beyond Leisure
A large number of American citizens travel abroad to avoid expensive treatments, whether it be Singapore, a popular destination for foreigners who do not have the same level of technology and surgical expertise in their home country. The concept itself is nothing new, in a sense replicating what travelers from all over the world are effectively already doing when they jump online to enjoy some Australian casino fun, wherever it is in the world they find themselves. Health tourism is not just about protecting Americans: 8 million patients around the world receive treatment abroad every year, contributing to a global industry worth about $24 billion to $40 billion, says Patients Without Borders, a medical travel information provider.
Medical tourists from the United States travel frequently to Mexico, Canada and countries in Central America, South America and the Caribbean Sea. Millions of patients travel to countries that lack medical infrastructure or are less advanced in a particular area of medical care, or to countries that offer specialized medical care.
Costa Rica is a popular place for American medical tourists to receive good dental care at reasonable prices. Many American patients visit South and Central America countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Costa Rica for cosmetic treatments, where they can travel for free and have advanced cosmetic surgery. Many people from Northern and Western Europe visit Central and Eastern Europe for cheap medical and dental care.
Thailand is one of the best destinations for medical tourism worldwide due to its low health costs and excellent services for expats. Thailand has the highest number of accredited hospitals in Southeast Asia and attracts a good number of medical travelers every year. Thailand is one of the world’s leading destinations for medical tourism with most procedures costing 50-70% less than in the western world.
In 2010, for example, 1.5 million Americans traveled to their country for medical treatment, compared with a number three years earlier. Foreigners seeking treatment ranging from open heart surgery to fertility treatment are making Thailand and its accredited hospitals a popular destination for medical tourism. In 2015 an estimated 28.1 million patients attracted the holiday, a 10.2 percent increase.
Factors contributing to the growing popularity of medical travel include the high cost of healthcare, long waiting times for certain procedures, the ease and affordability of international travel, and improvements in technology and standards of care in many countries. According to the medical tourism index, which evaluates a country’s attractiveness for medical travel, a country’s economy, public image, healthcare costs and quality of care are important factors for the growth of medical tourism in tourist destinations. Destinations and services offered to medical tourists are primarily aimed at citizens of developed and developing countries, with wealthy individuals from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom serving the largest share of the consumer base.
An interesting trend among medical tourists is how they spend their waiting-time, down-time, etc, with francais online casinos among others coming in as a firm favorite. I guess there’s something very practical about planning to spend the winnings on some or other cosmetic procedure, or perhaps an actual medical one even.