What is Medical Tourism?
Мedical tourism, by definition, refers to people traveling outside their country of residence to seek medical treatment.
Medical tourism started in ancient Greece, when those who worshiped Asclepius, the god of medicine, traveled to his temple to undergo healing rituals. Later, in the 17th century, with the emergence of spa towns, affluent people traveled worldwide to seek medical cures in the spa waters. However, traveling for surgery emerged more recently, gaining ground in the 1980s.
Recently, in the 20th century, people mostly traveled from underdeveloped to developed countries to access highly trained professionals and better facilities.
Yet the following medical tourism statistics show that today people mostly travel to less developed countries for various medical and healthcare needs. Primarily, they undergo procedures abroad due to low healthcare costs and no delays. But sometimes, they also travel to specific destinations to seek health services not available or not covered by health insurance in their country.
General Medical Tourism Industry Statistics
In recent years, the medical tourism industry has been rapidly growing.
These medical tourism statistics show that this trend has remarkably increased human mobility globally.
Globalization, digitalization, and significantly increased costs are the primary reasons for the surge in international medical travel. Thus, many countries put efforts into developing their health and medical tourism as it can bring significant economic gains.
- The most popular medical tourism countries are Costa Rica, India, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United States. (Patients Beyond Borders’*)
- The most attractive European destination is Spain, followed by France and Germany. (Statista, 2022)
- On a global scale, cross-border patients spend an average of $3,500 to $5,000 during one visit. (Patients Beyond Borders’*)
- Considering that 11 million people travel abroad for medical purposes, the medical tourism market is estimated at $38.5 to $55 billion. (Patients Beyond Borders’*)
- The medical tourism market in 2021 amounted to $32.02 billion. In 2022, it is expected to reach $35.77 billion. (The Business Research Company, 2022)
Medical Tourism Statistics by Country
Many countries put health tourism at the center of their tourism policies.
Yet, less developed countries are becoming medical tourism destinations attracting more patients mainly due to lower costs. Even though these countries might not be as progressive as others, investments in their healthcare systems enable them to offer advanced and progressive healthcare services to health tourists.
- Estimates show that the Indian medical tourism market will reach $7.4 million in 2022. (Future Market Insights, 2022)
- The total demand for Indian medical tourism accounts for about four to eight percent of the global medical tourism market share. (Future Market Insights, 2022)
- Forecasts show that the market’s demand will grow at 19% CAGR. (Future Market Insights, 2022)
- 697,453 foreigners traveled to India for medical treatment in 2019. (IIPA, 2021)
- Most tourists for medical purposes were from West Asia (29.9%), followed by Africa (19.5%). (Ministry of Tourism, 2021)
- The most popular cities among travelers in India are Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad. (IIPA, 2021)
- 38 hospitals in India are accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI), and 619 by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH). (IIPA, 2021)
- The 2020-2021 Medical Tourism Index puts India in 3rd place according to medical tourism costs and 4th place regarding facility and services. (Medical Tourism, 2020)
- In 2019 the Thai medical tourism market‘s value was around $9 billion. (Statista, 2022)
- The total share of Thailand’s medical tourism in the global market is two to seven percent. (Future Market Insights, 2022)
- Estimates show the market will increase at 18.4% CAGR. (Future Market Insights, 2022)
- According to the 2020-2021 Medical Tourism Index, Thailand ranks number 17 out of 46 destinations for medical tourism. (Medical Tourism, 2020)
- Thailand has more than 1,000 hospitals, 450 of which are private clinics. (Grand View Research, 2021)
- JCI accredits 60 hospitals and clinics in Thailand. (Statista, 2022)
- Cosmetic procedures were the most demanded service in 2019, with a value of $2.2 billion. (Statista, 2022)
- The UK medical tourism market is forecast to reach $6 billion in 2020. (Future Market Insights, 2022)
- Estimates show that sales will increase at a rate of 14.6% CAGR. (Future Market Insights, 2022)
- The total share of the UK’s global market stands at about three to seven percent. (Future Market Insights, 2022)
- The UK’s medical tourism market projection size for 2032 is $23.44 billion. (Future Market Insights, 2022)
- The Medical Tourism Index’s global ranking puts the UK in 5th place. In the destination environment category, the UK takes 3rd place. (Medical Tourism, 2020)
- Malaysia received 1,220,000 foreign tourists looking for medical treatments in 2019. (Malaysia Healthcare, 2020)
- Travelers in 2019 spent about $375 million on medical procedures. (Malaysia Healthcare, 2020)
- Foreign travelers seeking medical treatment come from these top ten countries: the UK, the US, Australia, India, Singapore, Japan, Bangladesh, China, and the Philippines. (Malaysia Healthcare, 2020)
- The state developed plans to offer healthcare services to foreigners in 90% of private hospitals by 2030. (Malaysia Healthcare, 2020)
US Medical Tourism Statistics
The US has the most expensive healthcare system in the world.
The health care spendings per capita are the highest at an average of $12,318. These costs are almost two times higher than other countries.
Therefore, it is no surprise that many Americans engage in medical travel abroad to access treatments and procedures at a healthcare facility at lower costs.
On the other hand, the American health care system also attracts many outbound patients because of its high-quality services and proximity to large patient markets.
- It was estimated that 1.2 million Americans would travel across the border for medical purposes in 2014. (Patients Beyond Borders’*)
- Estimates for 2019 showed that 2.1 million Americans traveled across the border for medical reasons. (Patients Beyond Borders, 2020)
- Analysis shows 290,000 Americans traveled to another country for medical procedures in 2020. (Health Care Insider, 2021)
- Almost 3% of Americans traveling overseas did so for medical purposes in 2020. (Trade, 2021)
- Most US patients traveled to Mexico, amounting to over a third of their spending. (Statista, 2022)
- A survey shows that 40 American hospitals and health facilities that provide care to international patients reported 161,061 international outpatient visits. (USCIPP, 2021)
- 48 American health organizations made $2.93 billion in gross revenue from international patients. (USCIPP, 2021)
- In 2020, the US medical tourism market was estimated at $18 billion. (Report Linker, 2021)
- The largest source market for US medical tourism was China, followed by Canada and Mexico. (Statista, 2022)
- Other international patients in the US came from UAW, Kuwait, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. (USCIPP, 2021)
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Most Common Medical Tourism Health Care Services
Treatments and availability are critical factors for people seeking medical treatment abroad. Yet the most significant reason is lower costs, especially for people traveling from developed nations.
However, as cheaper and more easily accessible it is, there are disadvantages to medical tourism. Poor quality of care, communications challenges, complications, or infections are a few examples of why taking out medical tourism insurance is advisable.
- According to the CDC, the most popular procedures and treatments people travel for are dental care, cosmetic surgery, fertility treatments, cancer treatment, surgery, and organ and tissue transplantation. (CDC, 2021)
- In addition, people also travel to undergo cardiovascular, orthopedics, and weight loss surgery, tests, scans, and health screenings. (Patients Beyond Borders, 2020)
- The most common treatments that international patients seek in the US are in the field of oncology. (USCIPP, 2021)
- Cardiovascular procedures are the most demanded among people traveling to India for medical reasons. (Future Market Insights, 2022)
- Cosmetic surgeries are the most sought-after medical procedures in Thailand among foreigners. (Future Market Insights, 2022)
- The most frequent treatments in demand in Malaysia are in the fields of orthopedics, cardiology, infertility treatment, oncology, health screening, and neurology. (Malaysia Healthcare, 2020)
- Most foreign tourists arrive in the UK for treatments in the field of orthopedics, especially neuromusculoskeletal procedures. (Future Market Insights, 2022)
Medical Tourism Cost Savings
The most significant advantage of medical tourism is that it saves on costs. The reason why facilities in developing countries can offer lower prices is related to the country’s economic status.
Underdeveloped countries have lower per capita gross domestic product, which means they have lower incomes. As a result, healthcare treatments and procedures prices are much lower compared to wealthy countries.
- Taking US costs as a benchmark, the average cost savings for the most popular destinations are:
- 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%. (Patients Beyond Borders’*)
- Many Americans travel to Mexico for medical procedures because they are much cheaper. For instance, the average price for a knee replacement in the US is $40,000, whereas, in Mexico, it costs around $15,000. (Health Care Insider, 2021)
- The average savings for medical treatments in Malaysia are 60 to 80%. For instance, CABG savings amount to $20,800, whereas patients can save up to $14,250 on laminectomy. (Malaysia Healthcare, 2020)
- A hip replacement in developing countries costs about $7,000 to $15,000, including logistics costs, compared to $39,299 in the US. (The Business Research Company, 2022)
- Americans and Europeans can save 55% to 70% on treatment costs in Thailand, Singapore, India, and Malaysia. (Grand View Research, 2021)
Medical Tourism International Healthcare Accreditation
Patients would not want to get treatment in an unlicensed hospital or center.
For that reason, the International Society for Quality in Health Care Inc. (ISQua) recognizes only specific organizations’ accreditations, the most common being the Joint Commission International, which ensures that accredited hospitals or clinics meet the same standards.
As ISQua puts it: “Accreditation is a formal process to ensure delivery of safe, high-quality health care based on standards and processes devised and developed by health care professionals for health care services. It is also a public recognition of achievement by a healthcare organization, of requirements of national healthcare standards”.
- In 2014, more than 600 hospitals and clinical departments worldwide received Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation. (Patients Beyond Borders’*)
- The number of accreditations grew by about 20% each year. (Patients Beyond Borders’*)
- In 2020, more than 950 hospitals worldwide were awarded JCI accreditation. (Patients Beyond Borders, 2020)
- The JCI accredits about 15,000 American hospitals. (Future Market Insights, 2022)
- JCI data shows that the following countries have the most accredited health care organizations:
- United Arab Emirates (206)
- Saudi Arabia (105)
- Brazil (63)
- Thailand (59)
- China (48)
- India (40) (JCI, 2022)
Medical Tourism Growth Statistics
As medical tourism statistics show, the growth of medical tourism is constant and rapid. All markets are expanding, but South East Asia is taking the lead in medical tourism.
- In 2014, it was estimated that the global medical tourism market would grow at a rate of 15-25%, with North, Southeast, and South Asia experiencing the highest growth. (Patients Beyond Borders’*)
- The market is expected to reach $54.45 billion by 2026 at a compound annual growth rate of 11.1%. (The Business Research Company, 2022)
- Between 2022 and 2023, estimates show that the market will continue growing at a CAGR of 30.5%. (Future Market Insights, 2022)
- By 2032, the market value is projected to reach $75 billion. (Future Market Insights, 2022)
- Forecasts show that China’s market will grow at 15.2% CAGR and reach $31.2 billion by 2027. (Report Linker, 2021)
- Japan’s market is expected to grow at a rate of 8.1%, Germany’s at 9.1%, and Canada’s at 10.1% CAGR by 2027. (Report Linker, 2021)
- According to estimates, the Asia-Pacific market will reach $21 billion by 2027. The Latin market will grow at a rate of 13.3% CAGR between 2020-2027. (Report Linker, 2021)
On a Final Note
These medical tourism statistics show that medical tourism is gaining more and more popularity, especially in developing countries.
Due to high costs, poor accessibility, and long waiting times, many people travel abroad to seek appropriate medical treatments and procedures.
*We’re using an archived version of the page as the source.