The medical tourism (also known as health tourism, tourism hospital) is a new global trend, growing that initially started in South America with agencies and tour operators specializing exclusively in this sector. The purpose of medical tourism is for patients to seek treatment at lower cost in a country other than where they reside or seek treatment abroad which could be treated at home.
There are four distinct phenomena that contribute to the development of these activities:
* Disparities in living standards between countries which, in a least developed country, to lower the cost of health care compared with a more developed country. For example, The Economist cites a study which estimates that U.S. can save up to 85% on medical expenses by having treatment abroad.
* Disparities in health infrastructure that will lead by example, a British citizen who resort NHS ultra-state-a bid to seek care in a country such as France, sometimes in bilateral agreements between countries, because they can receive an offer of adequate care in his country.
* Disparities in laws / regulations that will result in a rise of surgical procedures in some countries because of insurance premiums underwritten by practitioners and reflected in their prices or limit access to certain medical procedures such that abortion or sterilization.
* The opening of borders in particular in the field of goods and services that allows a practitioner of country X to hold consultations in a country Y to schedule a medical procedure in a country Z. The opening of borders is also linked to faster dissemination of information, which allows medical centers from one country to reach more potential customers abroad.
For several years, the phenomenon has spread worldwide: Asia, Eastern Europe and now North Africa (Tunisia, Morocco) are engaged in this sector. Nearly 12 million tourists mainly from rich countries visit these countries to make medical or cosmetic surgery.
While some South American countries mainly specialize in plastic surgery, others have chosen dentistry or ophthalmology. In headend countries offering plastic surgery, are Brazil, Bolivia and Costa Rica. These countries have seized on a strong international image representing the Latin woman always a top international beauty contest. Then the Maghreb countries: Tunisia, Morocco.
In Europe, other countries have specialized in dental surgery such as Hungary, Romania or the Czech Republic.
Thailand and India have specialized in organ transplants, specialties in cardiology and open heart surgery.
It may also be noted that the choice of destinations is strongly influenced by the language spoken in the host country. Thus a patient wishing to make some French care more oriented towards French-speaking countries like Tunisia and Morocco, while English will be looking to South Africa or India.
Benefits of medical tourism
Health is an economic sector which was very competitive, because of the difficulty for a patient to move away from home for treatment. The medical tourism can enter this competition to the benefit of patients. Specifically, the newspaper estimated that patients benefit directly from lower prices, but also indirectly improving the quality permitted by the competition. Indeed, hospitals in developed countries are obliged to increasingly take account of medical tourism and must adapt their offer improved benefits or reducing their prices. Similarly in countries that receive medical and tourists can avail itself of the currency, a transfer of skills and job creation.