Medical Tourism Statistics & Facts
With medical tourism still in its early stages, reliable data is hard to come by. Our research and editorial team works hard to compile the most reliable, up-to-date information on international medical travel, global healthcare, and the international patient experience.
Below, we have compiled brief answers to some of the queries we receive most often. Contact us with specific queries—we're happy to work with you to provide the best source information, third-party references, patient case studies, industry contacts, and the latest research data.
What are the top destinations?
Brazil, Costa Rica, India, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United States
Why these destinations?
The making of a world-class healthcare destination is complex. We consider a variety of factors, including:
- Government and private sector investment in healthcare infrastructure
- Demonstrable commitment to international accreditation, quality assurance, and transparency of outcomes
- International patient flow
- Potential for cost savings
- Political transparency and stability
- Excellent tourism infrastructure
- Sustained reputation for specialty excellence
- History of healthcare innovation and achievement
- Successful adoption of best practices and cutting-edge medical technology
- Availability of internationally-trained, experienced medical staff
What are the top specialties for medical travelers?
- Cosmetic surgery
- Dentistry (general, restorative, cosmetic)
- Cardiovascular (angioplasty, CABG, transplants)
- Orthopedics (joint and spine; sports medicine)
- Cancer (often high-acuity or last resort)
- Reproductive (fertility, women's health)
- Weight loss (LAP-BAND, gastric bypass)
- Scans, tests, health screenings and second opinions.
How big is the market?
Finding the answer to this question can be challenging. Estimates vary widely among world's the top research firms. This uncertainty results from inconsistencies in defining medical travel and a lack of verifiable data at the country level.
Patients Beyond Borders' editors define a medical traveler as anyone who travels across national borders for the purpose of receiving medical care. We do not count expatriates, tourists in need of emergency medical care, companions accompanying medical travelers, or multiple episodes that occur over the course of one trip.
With these variables in mind, we believe the market size is $20-35 billion, based on approximately seven million patients worldwide spending an average of $3,000-5,000 per surgery (including all medically-related costs; not including patient travel, accompanying companions or accommodations). We estimate some 750,000 Americans will travel outside the US for medical care this year (2013).
Is the market growing?
Yes. The world population is aging and becoming more affluent at rates that surpass the availability of quality healthcare resources. These key drivers are forcing patients to pursue cross-border healthcare options. We estimate the worldwide medical tourism market is growing at a rate of 25-35%.
How much can you save?
Using US costs across a variety of specialties and procedures as a benchmark, average range of savings for the top ten destinations:
- Brazil: 25-40%
- Costa Rica: 40-65%
- India: 65-90%
- Korea: 30-45%
- Malaysia: 65-80%
- Mexico: 40-65%
- Singapore: 30-45%
- Taiwan: 40-55%
- Thailand: 50-70%
- Turkey: 50-65%
We are happy to provide detailed comparative cost data, by country and procedure, upon request.
What is international accreditation?
Trusted international accreditation has become one of the biggest factors in the growth of the medical tourism market. Responding to a global demand for accreditation standards, the US-based Joint Commission launched its international affiliate agency in 1999, the Joint Commission International (JCI). In order to be accredited by the JCI, an international hospital must meet the same set of rigorous standards set forth in the US by the Joint Commission. Nearly 500 facilities around the world have now been awarded JCI accreditation and that number is growing by about 20% per year.
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Last updated on 13 January 2013