FOR THE MEDIA
Researchers, journalists and industry leaders worldwide look to Patients Beyond Borders as the most authoritative resource for current, reliable data on international health travel and patient choice for high-quality, affordable medical care. We can help you find the right contacts for your story: leading international hospitals and clinics, practitioners, patients, medical travel agencies, employers, or insurers with compelling accounts about their personal and professional experiences.
Visit our Facts & Figures page for current information on the medical tourism market and top destinations.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT MEDICAL TOURISM
With medical tourism still in its early stages, gaining reliable data is challenging. Our research and editorial team works hard to assemble
the most accurate, current 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. Members of the media, research and academic communities are invited to contact us with specific questions or concerns—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. Or write to us directly: media at patientsbeyondborders.com.
the top destinations?
Costa Rica, India, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United States
We are happy to provide detailed comparative cost data, by country and procedure to members of the media, upon request.
What are the top destinations?
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 on medical procedures
Political transparency and social stability
Excellent tourism infrastructure
Sustained reputation for clinical excellence
History of healthcare innovation and achievement
Successful adoption of best practices and state-of-the-art medical technology
Availability of internationally-trained, experienced medical staff
Why these destinations?
What are the top specialties for medical travelers?
Dentistry (general, restorative, cosmetic)
Cardiovascular (angioplasty, CABG, transplants)
Orthopedics (joint and spine; sports medicine)
Cancer (often experimental or last resort)
Reproductive (fertility, IVF, women's health)
Weight loss (LAP-BAND, gastric bypass)
Scans, tests, health screenings and second opinions.
What are the top specialties for medical travelers?
Is the market growing?
Yes. The world population is aging and becoming more affluent at rates that surpass the availability of quality healthcare resources. In addition, out-of-pocket medical costs of critical and elective procedures continue to rise, while nations offering universal care are faced with ever-increasing resource burdens. These drivers are forcing patients to pursue cross-border healthcare options either to save money or to avoid long waits for treatment. We estimate the worldwide medical tourism market is growing at a rate of 15-25%, with inbound patient flows highest in Mexico, Southeast and South Asia.
Is the market growing?
How big is the market?
Arriving at a precise, reliable answer is challenging, particularly in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic, which cleaned the data slate in 2020 and beyond.
Most in the international travel and healathcare communities agree that patient flows will eventually return to pre-pandemic levels. Thus it's useful to note that Patients Beyond Borders pegged the 2019 medical tourism market size at USD $74-92 billion, based on approximately 21-26 million cross-border patients worldwide spending an average of USD $3550 per visit, including medically-related costs, cross-border and local transport, inpatient stay and accommodations. We estimated some 2.1 million Americans traveled outside the US for medical care in 2019.
We are seeing fewer patients traveling for more expensive care. For example, while patients appear hesitant to cross borders for simple procedures (such as dental fillings, vision care, screenings and the like), during the worst of the pandemic, thousands drifted into acute, costly conditions requiring expensive treatment. Healthcare consumers driven by cost considerations are seeking destinations known for offering high-quality, affordable treatment.
The increased availability and patient comfort with telehealth appear to have enhanced the willingness of patients to research, compare costs, select providers and travel internationally for all types of medical care.
Note: Patients Beyond Borders’ editors define a medical traveler as anyone who travels across international borders for the purpose of receiving medical care. We do not count in-country expatriates, tourists in need of emergency medical care, companions accompanying medical travelers, or multiple patient episodes that occur over the course of one medical visit.
As borders begin to re-open around the world, we are happy to provide up-to-the minute insights as well as data as it becomes available.
How big is the market?
How much can you save?
Using US costs across a variety of specialties and procedures as a benchmark, average range of savings for the most-traveled destinations:
Brazil: 20-30% | Costa Rica: 45-65% | India: 65-90% | Malaysia: 65-80% | Mexico: 40-65% | Singapore: 25-40% | South Korea: 30-45% | Taiwan: 40-55% | Thailand: 50-75% | Turkey: 50-65%
Detailed comparative cost data, by country and procedure available to media, research, academic communities upon request.
How much can you save?
What is international accreditation?
Trusted international accreditation has become one of the biggest drivers in the growth of the medical tourism market. Responding to 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. More than 950 hospitals and clinical departments around the world have now been awarded JCI accreditation and that number is growing by about 20% per year.
More recently, established agencies that accredit outpatient clinics, such as The Accreditation Association of Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) and The American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAASF) have launched international initiatives that address ambulatory care.
What is international accreditation?
PATIENTS BEYOND BORDERS IN THE NEWS
Medical Travel Rebound: What to Know
21 JULY 2021
Since winter, Medical Departures has enjoyed a large-scale recovery. “U.S. traffic of patients at this point is roughly the same as it was before the pandemic,” says Pope. “And in dollar terms it’s actually up by 20% to 50%, depending on who you ask. It’s people who’ve deferred larger treatments.” <Read more>>>
International Medical Travel Rebounds to Pre-Pandemic Levels
15 JULY 2021
“Most U.S. outbound traffic today is border travel by car,” said Josef Woodman, author of 'Patients Beyond Borders.' “People feel safer, and there are many repeat customers. Many have been going for years, all the way from Texas to California.” <Read more>>>
‘Shot Trips’ To Dubai, Florida, Tel Aviv, Havana: Covid-19 Vaccine Tourism Takes Off
14 FEBRUARY 2021
Global medical tourism guide Patients Beyond Borders reported that Mexico and Costa Rica are the most popular destinations for dental care, cosmetic surgery and prescription medicines while Thailand, India and South Korea take the lead for more complicated procedures such as orthopedics, cardiovascular, cancer and fertility treatment. <Read more>>>
Why Medical Tourism Is Drawing Patients, Even in a Pandemic
NEW YORK TIMES
19 JANUARY 2021
“Our market has always been what I call the ‘working poor’ and they just keep getting poorer,” said Josef Woodman, the chief executive of Patients Beyond Borders. “The pandemic has gutted low-income and middle-class people around the world and for many of them the reality is that they have to travel to access affordable health care.” Read more>>>
Medical Tourism Was Booming In Mexican Border Towns. Then Came The Coronavirus.
6 OCTOBER 2020
“It’s devastating” to local economies, Woodman said. “It’s not just the dentists and the clinics. It’s the transportation people, it’s the restaurant people. Their livelihood is 100% all about medical and dental tourism or pharma tourism."”
On the Texas border amid coronavirus, families are seeking medical care in Mexico
10 SEPTEMBER 2020
Medical tourism to Mexican border cities has been common for years, since treatment in the U.S. can cost more than twice than it does in Mexico and medicines can be up to 10 times more expensive in the U.S. Read more>>>
Cruzar la frontera hacia México es la esperanza de muchos en Estados Unidos para conseguir cuidados médicos
10 SEPTEMBER 2020
La organización Patients Beyond Borders estima que en los centros médicos de México es posible ahorrar desde el 40% hasta el 65% de lo que costaría un tratamiento del lado estadounidense. Read more>>>
What a Korean Teenage Fashion Trend Reveals About the Culture of Mask-Wearing
11 AUGUST 2020
“That’s what worked in the United States: a ‘me’ culture and the rugged individualist heading West in their wagon trains. All that is still part of the iconic image of Americans,” Woodman says. “And it’s not working so well for us right now.” Read more>>>
Medical Tourism to Sonora Plunges Due to COVID-19
30 JULY 2020
Americans are now traveling to Mexico mainly for complex care, like implants, to treat problems that have become impossible to ignore. "People put it off, then five months later it turns into an emergency situation,” Woodman said. “The ones that were in trouble in December are desperate.” Read more>>>
Patients pack bags as dental tourism resumes
16 JULY 2020
“It’s safe to say that at least 100,000 patients cancelled their medical or dental trips in March, with some 500,000 cancellations on the horizon through [to the end of September] 2020 going to see some interesting changes along this front," Woodman said. Read more>>>
Will Coronavirus Impact The Future Of Medical Tourism? Thousands Forced To Cancel Trips Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
"I think we're going to see some interesting changes along this front," he said. "Tele-health has instantly become baked into the system overnight. They have to use it, whether it's tele-diagnostics or physician consultations, tele-therapy." Read more>>>
Medical tourism: how is digital tech reshaping the industry?
DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
4 MARCH 2020
“Remote physician-to-physician consultation enables in-country diagnosis and treatment planning,” wrote Patients Beyond Borders founder and CEO Josef Woodman “This remote partnership builds in-country medical capacity and helps patients that do need to travel for a procedure better prepare for treatment and access greater support upon their return home.” Read more>>>
My Journey Through Tijuana for the Best Surgery $2,000 Can Buy
18 FEBRUARY 2020
"...insurance companies dictate what kind of treatment you need to receive, and that’s what the doctor follows. But in Mexico, it’s not like that.” Read more>>>
Mexico Insurance Company Rolls Out "Medical Tourism" Coverage for American Seeking Affordable Treatment South of the Border
27 JANUARY 2020
According to PBB, Americans traveling to Mexico could save as much as 40 to 60 percent on treatments.However, Woodman warned: "You don't want to just jump in a car and get stopped and realize you should have bought insurance." Read more>>>
Worth the Trip? A Look at Dental Tourism
20 JANUARY 2020
Dentists may encounter patients who are interested in dental tourism. While they should not immediately discourage the idea, all dentists should insist on one central point: Do your research. Read more>>>
In India, Westerners are fuelling a gender affirmation surgery boom
4 DECEMBER 2019
“Around 15 years ago, India established itself as a destination for orthopaedics and cardiology. But today, it is becoming well-known for reliable high-quality care in almost every specialty and super specialty.” Read more>>>
Why So Many People Have to Travel for IVF Treatment
25 NOVEMBER 2019
"American patients can save 30-65 percent by crossing borders for fertility treatment, at clinics, such as Barbados Fertility Center (Barbados); BNH Hospital (Thailand); Centro Fecundar (Costa Rica); LIV Fertility Center (Mexico)," says Woodman. Read More>>>
Welcome to Molar City, Mexico, The Dental Mecca America’s Health Care Costs Built
14 NOVEMBER 2019
Nobody wants to travel for care to a far-flung land and be in pain without relatives and loved ones around,” he [Woodman] said. “They’re being forced into it financially and by the shortcomings of the system. Read More>>>
'It's a no-brainer': Spokane couple saves $4,500 with Mexico 'dental vacation'
CBS NEWS KREM2
12 NOVEMBER 2019
More people are traveling out of the country for dental treatment but dentists are warning of the risks...Mexico is a top destination and dental work is a top reason. The trips are often called "medical vacations" or "dental tourism." Read More>>>
6 Key Things to Do If You’re Traveling Outside the U.S. for Plastic Surgery
7 NOVEMBER 2019
Josef Woodman, CEO of the medical travel resource Patients Beyond Borders, acknowledges that though there are highly distinguished medical schools in popular medical tourism locales such as Thailand, India, Korea and Mexico, properly vetting doctors without certification in those regions is just too complicated for the average consumer. Read More >>>
Are High Health Costs Really Forcing Americans to Go Overseas?
21 OCTOBER 2019
According to Patients Beyond Borders, a group that promotes medical tourism, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common procedures that Americans seek overseas are cosmetic, dental, cardiac, and bariatric. Read More >>>
US 'medical tourists' seek cheap health care abroad
14 OCTOBER 2019
The United States itself receives health tourists -- its highly advanced health care system appeals to patients with massive purchasing power from Arab and Asian countries. But that is a luxury Merrill cannot afford. Read More >>>
Beauty Tourism is a Quietly Flourishing Global Industry
3 OCTOBER 2019
"Many countries are known for a particular category of treatment," Woodman says. "If you're seeking cosmetic surgery, Mexico, Costa Rica and Thailand rank among the most popular destinations. Dentistry will have you exploring Mexico, Costa Rica or Hungary." Read More>>
Медицинская утопия для Севастополя
02 октября 2019
A Memphis life, saved in India
THE DAILY MEMPHIAN
13 SEPTEMBER 2019
Willy’s experience has been labeled medical tourism, and Patients Beyond Borders estimates that 1.9 million Americans will travel out of the country for medical care in 2019.....Willy didn’t any more travel to India for the temple tours and curry than families travel to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for Graceland and barbecue. Read More>>
Estadounidenses ‘migran’ a México ¡para curarse!; crece turismo médico
27 AUGUST 2019
“Por lo general, está más cerca del 70 por ciento”, explicó Josef Woodman, CEO de Patients Beyond Borders. “Especialmente cuando vas por un tratamiento complejo”. Leer mas>>
Expertise in oncology puts Malaysia on medical tourism map
THE SUN DAILY
9 JULY 2019
"Data by Patients Beyond Borders shows that foreigners seeking treatment in Malaysia can enjoy average savings of between 60% and 80% on procedures such as CABG, valve replacement with bypass, total hip replacement, total knee replacement, gastric bypass, implant-supported dentures, full facelift, rhinoplasty and others. In comparison, Singapore offers cost savings of 25% to 40% and Mexico, 40% to 60%." Read More >>
The Worst Patients in the World
“In most of the world, what the doctor says still goes. ‘Doctors are more deified in other countries; patients follow orders,’ says Josef Woodman, the CEO of Patients Beyond Borders, a consulting firm that researches international health care. He contrasts this with the attitude of his grown children in the U.S.: ‘They don’t trust doctors as far as they can throw them.’” Read More >>
Juarez’s medical tourism plummets as bridge wait times grow
ABC KTSM EL PASO
5 JUNE 2019
“Medical tourism is one of Mexico’s multi-billion-dollar industries and one of the main lures of border cities like Juarez, Tijuana and Laredo for American visitors. According to the web page of Patients Beyond Borders, a medical travel organization, in 2016 medical tourism contributed $4.6 billion to Mexico’s economy. The reason? Cheaper prices.” Read More >>
Thousands of Americans Are Crossing the Border into Mexico Every Year to Get Affordable Medical Treatment
18 MAY 2019
“A treatment plan he estimated would cost $15,900 in the U.S. ended up costing Woodman $4,010 in Mexico. “So, I saved about $10,000,” he said. “And that is not unusual. You can save a lot of money.” Read More >>
Medical tourism a cheaper alternative to surgery in the states but risks accompany the rewards
WMC 5 ACTION NEWS MEMPHIS
25 APRIL 2019
“Through Woodman’s 12 years of work with internationally accredited hospitals, Ministries of Health, doctors and specialists, Patients Beyond Borders compiled a short list of the most-traveled destinations and the average range of savings per procedure.” Read More >>
Medical Korea 2019 Reveals South Korea at the Forefront of “Fourth Generation Healthcare
MEDICAL TRAVEL TODAY
9 APRIL 2019
“It is perhaps here, at the crossroads of hyper-innovation in healthcare and common-sense preventive approaches to physical and mental well-being, where Korea has the greatest opportunity to excel, adapt and compete on the global healthcare stage in improving medical outcomes and patient satisfaction to the good of all.” Read More >>
I had my misgivings about going abroad for surgery
28 MARCH 2019
“Patients Beyond Borders, a publisher of guidebooks for ‘medical tourists’ estimates that more than 20 million people will travel to another country for medical treatment this year, up 25% from 16 million last year. Meanwhile, a 2016 report by payments giant Visa estimated that the medical tourism industry was worth $50bn a year, and continuing to grow.”
Where care counts more than money
26 JANUARY 2019
“Famous for specialised treatments and anti-ageing programmes, Thailand ranks among the top 10 medical tourism destinations, along with Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Mexico, Israel, Costa Rica, India and Turkey, according to Patients Beyond Borders. It’s home to 64 hospitals accredited by Joint Commission International, which assures visitors safety and high-quality standards—the highest number in Asean and the fourth in the world.” Read More>>
They went to Mexico for surgery. They came back with a deadly superbug.
THE WASHINGTON POST
23 JANUARY 2019
“According to Patients Beyond Borders, a medical tourism guidebook, 1.7 million Americans traveled to other countries in 2017 for medical care, and that number is expected to increase. Many, such as Capone, travel to save money. Mexico is among the top 10 destinations.” Read More>>
Medical Tourists: Incoming and Outgoing
"Now, many medical tourists are going the other way—from the United States to other countries to receive health care. In 2007, it is estimated that 750,000 Americans traveled to other countries for health care. In 2017, more than 1.4 million Americans sought health care in a variety of countries around the world" Read More>>
Dallas radio interview on El Paso patient’s tragic outcome
14 NOVEMBER 2018
Josef Woodman speaks with KRLD Dallas’s Mitch Carr about the importance of licensed medical providers and facility accreditation in light of the 30 October tragedy at a cosmetic clinic in Juarez, Mexico. Listen Here>>
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