Medical tourism simply means traveling for healthcare services. While most countries offer universal healthcare, not all treatments are automatically included. Cosmetic surgeries are usually off the table, with a few exceptions. You could get free cosmetic surgery following a horrific injury, for example, or if there’s an issue that impacts your quality of life. For those who want to improve their looks and confidence, however, the private sector is their only option.
Western residents traveling east isn’t the only medical tourism happening, either. You’ll see domestic patients travel hours to get to a top clinic in their own country or see residents in nearby countries visit their neighbors to get treated at a clinic that provides excellent results.
Medical Tourism Market
The medical tourism market is massive and growing rapidly. To put into perspective just how fast this industry is increasing, know that the market was estimated to be worth USD 11.56 billion in 2020, which increased to 13.98 billion in 2021. Current estimates place the overall worth of global medical tourism at being worth 53.51 billion by 2028.
On average, 14 million people will travel outside of their home country to receive some form of medical treatment. They aren’t traveling for sub-par care, either, with over 40% seeking care internationally to gain access to improved technology, shorter wait periods, and specialist care providers.
How Has Medical Tourism Grown in Popularity?
There are several factors that have contributed to the growing popularity of medical tourism:
More Affordable Treatments
Medical treatments are becoming more affordable, especially as the technology involved becomes more widespread. This reduces the cost of tools and, as a result, the cost of treatments. This means that more can afford the best hair loss treatments and recommit to those treatments whenever they need a touch-up. The same applies to other cosmetic surgeries.
More Affordable Travel Costs
The second factor that has led to increased medical tourism is the reduction in travel costs. Flights are more affordable than ever, and between vacation homes and hotels, accommodation is also comfortably affordable for many. Without the high cost of travel, barring those who want elective or specialist medical procedures, more are increasingly traveling for treatments.
More Global Marketing
Not all trips for medical treatments are made because the treatment in question is more affordable. Patients may go further for a more luxurious experience or to gain access to a unique specialist. In these cases, it isn’t the affordability that has driven up medical tourism but rather global marketing.
Why is it Growing in Popularity?
With high costs in the west and more service options at affordable prices increasing in the east, it’s no wonder that more people are looking to travel afar to get the cosmetic treatments they want. People travel to Dubai, Turkey, and the UAE to get quality care for less.
Of course, people will travel abroad for medical treatments for more than just cheap surgery. You may travel to where a specialist is located or to be treated at a state-of-the-art facility that your home country doesn’t offer.