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Health tourism a boon or curse?

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FRIDA Y , MA Y 2 8 , 2 0 1 0

Health Tourism A Boon or Curse?
What is it? Medical tourism (also called medical travel, health tourism or global health care) is a term initially coined by travel agencies and the mass media to describe the rapidly-growing practice of traveling across international borders to obtain health care. Such services typically include elective procedures as well as complex specialized surgeries such as joint replacement (knee/hip), cardiac surgery, dental surgery, and cosmetic surgeries. However, virtually every type of health care, including psychiatry, alternative treatments, convalescent care and even burial services are available. As a practical matter, providers and customers commonly use informal channels of communicationconnection-contract, and in such cases this tends to mean less regulatory or legal oversight to assure quality and less formal recourse to reimbursement or redress, if needed. Over 50 countries have identified medical tourism as a national industry.However, accreditation and other measures of quality vary widely across the globe, and there are risks and ethical issues that make this method of accessing medical care controversial. Also, some destinations may become hazardous or even dangerous for medical tourists to contemplate. History of health tourism The concept of medical tourism is almost as old as medicine itself. Long before the first American cardiac patient stepped onto Indian soil, the country enjoyed a rich history of providing Yoga instruction, spiritual enlightenment, and Ayurvedic healing to seekers from around the world. The first recorded instance of medical tourism dates back thousands of years to when Greek pilgrimstraveled from all over the Mediterranean to the small territory in the Saronic Gulf called Epidauria.This territory was the sanctuary of the healing god Asklepios. Epidauria became the original travel destination for medical tourism. Spa towns and sanitariums may be considered an early form of medical tourism. In eighteenth century England, for example, patients visited spas because they were places with supposedly health-giving mineral waters, treating diseases from gout to liver disorders and bronchitis. Health tourism: An overview Factors that have led to the increasing popularity of medical travel include the high cost of health care, long wait times for certain procedures, the ease and affordability of international travel, and improvements in both technology and standards of care in many countries.Medical tourists can come from anywhere in the First World, including Europe, the Middle East, Japan, the United States, and Canada. This is because of their large populations, comparatively high wealth, the high expense of health care or lack of health care options
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Medical tourism for knee/hip replacements has emerged as one of the more widely accepted procedures because of the lower cost and minimal difficulties associated with the traveling to/from the surgery. Cuba. Tunisia and New Zealand. Singapore. many clinics quote prices that are not all inclusive and include only the surgeon fees associated with the procedure. An estimated 750. Hong Kong. and Lasik eye surgery worth $3. patients are finding that insurance either does not cover orthopedic surgery (such as knee/hip replacement) or imposes unreasonable restrictions on the choice of the facility. Costa Rica. Colombia. and sometimes even less. Lithuania.250 in South Africa. However. e.[6] In Costa Rica. Cosmetic surgery savings are even greater: A full facelift that would cost $20.000 Americans went abroad for health care in 2007.Canada has set waiting-time benchmarks.blogspot. Cuba. Bolivia. A heart-valve replacement that would cost $200.000 in the US runs about $1.html 2/12 . Colombia. Thailand.000 or more in the US. South Africa. Philippines or India.000 USD.000 in India--and that includes round-trip airfare and a brief vacation package. UAE. South Korea. Cuba. a wealthy patient could feasibly have an operation the day after their arrival.in/2010/05/health-tourism-boon-or-curse-what-is-it. and the report estimated that a million and a half would seek health care outside the US in 2008. an estimated 782.[7] According to an article by the University of Delaware publication. including all associated fees. Brunei. and recently. Thailand or South Africa can be one-tenth of what it is in theUnited States or Western Europe. g. The growth in medical tourism has the potential to cost US health care providers billions of dollars in lost revenue. Popular cosmetic surgery travel destinations include: Argentina. Hungary. Similarly. 26 weeks for a hip replacement and 16 weeks for cataract surgery. a knee replacement in Thailand with six days of physical therapy costs about onefifth of what it would in the States. or prosthetics to be used. Brazil. Singapore. and increasingly high expectations of their populations with respect to health care. waiting an average of 9. Colombia.4 weeks. for non-urgent medical procedures. Additionally. Costa Rica. Udaily: “ The cost of surgery in India.700 in the US is available in many other countries for only $730. Mexico and all-about-health-tourism. Saudi Arabia. India. The Philippines.8/5/13 Health tourism a boon or curse? locally. for example. Hong Kong. An authority at the Harvard Business School recently stated that "medical tourism is promoted much more heavily in the United Kingdom than in the United States". Using Canada as an example. Malaysia. while the poor may die before they receive help. A large draw to medical travel is convenience and speed. Colombia provides a knee replacement for about $5. surgeon. goes for $10. Thailand.500 in the US costs $500 in India. Countries that operate public healthcare systems are often so taxed that it can take considerable time to get nonurgent medical care. such as FDA-approved prosthetics and hospital stayover expenses.[7] ” Popular medical travel worldwide destinations include: Argentina. A forecast by Deloitte Consulting published in August 2008 projected that medical tourism originating in the US could jump by a factor of ten over the next decade.936 Canadians spent time on medical waiting lists in 2005. Jordan. a metal-free dental bridge worth $5.

In some parts of the world.However. some hospitals have developed their own departments to help attract medical tourists. eye surgery and orthopedic surgery. For example. In Europe Belgium. wider political issues can influence where medical tourists will choose to seek out health care.500-crore industry by 2015. cardiac bypass surgery. The Indian government is taking steps to address infrastructure issues that hinder the country's growth in medical tourism. plastic surgery has also become quite common. There are several advantages to using a medical tourism coordinator embedded in a hospital. hip all-about-health-tourism.9. the availability of latest medical technologies and a growing compliance on international quality standards.[65] Advantages for medical tourists include reduced costs. countries such as Argentina. bone-marrow transplant. making it a Rs.and post-travel medical issues.8/5/13 Health tourism a boon or curse? Turkey. the cities where the hospitals are. India in Health tourism India’s medical tourism sector is expected to experience an annual growth rate of 30%. as well as the fact that foreigners are less likely to face a language barrier in India. According to the "Sociedad Boliviana de Cirugia Plasticay Re constructiva". Colombia also provides advanced care in cardiovascular and transplant surgery.blogspot.[2][66] The most popular treatments sought in India by medical tourists are alternative medicine. Bolivia. Most estimates claim treatment costs in India start at around a tenth of the price of comparable treatment in America or Britain. Health tourism providers have developed as intermediaries to unite potential medical tourists with provider hospitals and other organisations. India is known in particular for heart surgery. In places like the US. Poland and Slovakia are also breaking into the business.in/2010/05/health-tourism-boon-or-curse-what-is-it. Brazil and Colombia lead on plastic surgery medical skills relying on their experienced plastic surgeons. While most medical tourism providers are independent companies. surrogate pregnancy and other assisted reproductive technology treatments including freezing embryos for retro-production. there is a lower likelihood of non-medical complications. which has high standards of quality. the coordinator will be more familiar with the procedures of the specific hospitals. more than 70% of middle and upper class women in the country have had some form of plastic surgery. perceptions of medical tourism are not always positive. Companies are beginning to offer global health care options that will enable North American and European patients to access world health care at a fraction of the cost of domestic care. Since they work together all the time. In South America. the company Medical Value Travel is a subsidiary of the CIMA hospitals in Mexico and Costa Rica and the VITA hospitals in Brazil. They also help provide resources for follow-up care upon the patient's return.html 3/12 . and all the people involved in the process. A specialized subset of medical tourism is reproductive tourism and reproductive outsourcing. Therefore.which is the practice of traveling abroad to undergo in-vitro fertilization. In Bolivia and Colombia.[64] Estimates of the value of medical tourism to India go as high as $2 billion a year by 2012. Companies that focus on medical value travel typically provide nurse case managers to assist patients with pre. South Africa is taking the term "medical tourism" very literally by promoting their "medical safaris". medical tourism is viewed as risky.

Kerala. which has resulted in a substantial increase of visitor arrivals into the state. India has state of the art Hospitals and the best qualified doctors. Health tourism as a boon You might be wondering why anyone would travel to a foreign country in order to receive medical care? Why place your health in the hands of a total stranger in a country you've never visited? Why pay for extra airfare and hotel accommodations? Why expose yourself to the potential dangers of treatment abroad? There are actually many reasons for medical tourism's increasing popularity: 1. you can get the treatment done in Kerala . However. The health tourism focus has seen Kerala participate in various trade shows and expos wherein the advantages of this traditional form of medicine are showcased. and pay for all medical expenses out of pocket in a foreign country.in/2010/05/health-tourism-boon-or-curse-what-is-it.8/5/13 Health tourism a boon or curse? resurfacing and other areas of advanced medicine . Kerala and Ayurveda have virtually become synonymous with each other.India has one of the best qualified professionals in each and every field. book a hotel. Medical Vacations Can Be Affordable For many procedures. as and when advised by the Doctors. This is especially all-about-health-tourism. They have made a concerted effort to promote health tourism in a big way. has pioneered health and medical tourism in India.Kerala.html 4/12 . comparable with any of the western countries. With the best infrastructure. though Kerala has strongly focussed on Ayurveda and its wide array of treatments and medications.India at the same time. A patient will come to Kerala India where he will undergo medical treatment and along with that we will show him the Kerala tourist and pilgrim destinations.Allopathi. the best possible Medical facilities. The whole thing would save him a lot of money and he will get to discover Kerala . Regarding Medical facilities Kerala has the most competent doctors and world class medical facilities. A policy announcement of this effect is likely soon.blogspot. [68] Other major cities where medical tourists are catered to include New Delhi and Mumbai.The south Indian city of Chennai has been declared India's Health Capital. as it nets in 45% of health tourists from abroad and 30-40% of domestic health tourists. good facilities are also available in the other traditional forms of medicine as well as in modern medical treatment. thus highlighting the advantages of Ayurveda in health management. Kerala is a very lucrative destination for people wanting to undergo treatment of certain medical problems who do not need immediate emergency treatment. With most competitive charges for treatment.India at the lowest charges. it's often more expensive to receive treatment at home than it is to purchase a plane ticket. accompanied with the most competitive prices.Ayurveda etc and this fact has now been realized the world over. or God’s Own Country as its corporate slogan goes. The bias towards health tourism in Kerala is so strong that Kerala Ayurveda Centres have been established at multiple locations in various metro cities.Dental. Kerala offers World Class Medical Facilities. Kerala in health tourism Kerala. Ministry of Tourism India(MoT) is planning to extend its Market Development Assistance (MDA) scheme to cover Joint Commission INternational (JCI) and National Accreditation Board of Hospitals (NABH) certified hospitals.

in/2010/05/health-tourism-boon-or-curse-what-is-it. you can travel to parts of the world where hospitals specialize in the aforementioned procedures. After some more research. After some more digging around. half of which needed to be paid in advance.000 patients from the United States alone. treatments are so prohibitively expensive that they are impossible to afford in your home country. wildlife and urban cleanliness) Foreign exchange (generates resources to import food.000. technology. few administrative positions.blogspot. pharmaceuticals.Hip resurfacing. water.000 in the United States. And you won't necessarily have to break the bank either. despite its widespread use and success rate at many popular medical tourism destinations around the world. The New England Journal of Medicine recently detailed an account of a self-employed carpenter who had an acute mitral-valve prolapse that required surgery. That same procedure costs just over $10. Shortly after returning to North Carolina. Why not combine the two into an all-out medical vacation that provides you with everything you need. was only recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Equally important. little upward mobility. telecom and cybercom. this patient was able to find a hospital in Texas that could perform the procedure for $40. tourist attractions. consumer goods. Bumrungrad International Hospital in Thailand. most of us need medical treatment from time to time. Think about all the exotic foods.) Infrastructure development (roads. but not necessarily local priorities. they do everything they can to eliminate wait times. 3. fashion. for example. With medical tourism.) all-about-health-tourism. Estimated fees at the nearest hospital approached $200. 2.html 5/12 . want.000. but these tend to be superficial elements of a culture. provide patients with options. India where he had the procedure performed for less than $7. In 2005. wait times tend to be considerably less if you plan your medical vacation accordingly. the patient went back to work with a healthy heart.8/5/13 Health tourism a boon or curse? true in popular medical tourism destinations such as India.) Environmental protection (econ incentives to preserve nature. Medical Tourism Provides You with Options Some countries heavily regulate (or even ban) certain elective procedures or complicated surgeries. the patient decided to fly to New Delhi. treated 55. and most of us plan vacations every year or so. Thailand. The fact of the matter is.) Cultural preservation (economic incentives to preserve food. electricity.000. A coronary bypass. and ensure optimal care. festivals and physical history. for example. Because popular medical destinations actively recruit patients from abroad. and desire? The other important advantages are: Ayurveda becomes popular Ayurveda regains it lost name and prestige Can attract more touristors Employment (1 emp/1000 tourist) (labor intensive.000 in India. Medical Vacations Can Be Fun Imagine recuperating after surgery on a white sand beach while sipping island drinks and receiving full body massages. might cost almost $80. In other cases. for example. and shopping you could enjoy. luxury medical facility. and Singapore.

3. it becomes prohibitively expensive to consult with whatever doctor or dentist provided you with primary care.blogspot. you might not be fully covered if you travel abroad. It's Best Not to Travel Alone Anytime you have major surgery done. Medical Malpractice Suits Although most medical tourism facilities (hospitals. by receiving treatment abroad. seeking damages can sometimes be difficult in cases of negligence. This is not to say that medical tourists have absolutely no legal recourse. dangers. you occasionally sacrifice familiarity and certain legal guarantees. hospitals in medical tourism destinations like Thailand and India have begun offering life-saving medical procedures that your insurance company would probably cover back home.in/2010/05/health-tourism-boon-or-curse-what-is-it. it's customary to check in with your physician or dentist from time to time as you recuperate.8/5/13 Health tourism a boon or curse? Development of health care services (those these aren't always available to local people. Fortunately. Insurance Laws May Vary Depending on the type of insurance you have. 2. This usually requires consulting a local physician or dentist in your hometown. In the past. please consult our Medical Tourism Insurance section. medical tourism was largely relegated to the cosmetic surgery industry. It's not uncommon to find medical tourists relaxing on the beaches of Phuket or Goa as they recuperate. To get started. please visit our Medical Tourism Malpractice & Liability section. The laws of your country might not be any easier to decipher. and concerns of which you should be aware. But for procedures requiring longer recovery periods. Make sure you have the facts first. or incompetence. You'll want to check with your insurance carrier and see what portion of the final bill they're willing to cover. Although you might receive personalized attention. dental clinics. and depending on the type of procedure you need. insurance usually wasn't a major factor since elective procedures aren't normally covered. Postoperative Treatments For many procedures. 4. in addition to whatever foreign health care provider supervised the original treatment.) Health tourism as a curse Although there are countless advantages and benefits to medical tourism. quality health care.html 6/12 . but if you're looking for large cash settlements. etc. there are also a few disadvantages. but you will probably enjoy greater access to more transparent guidelines and regulations. For a more detailed discussion on legal issues surrounding health travel.) will have medical malpractice insurance to cover any unforeseen events. affordable pricing. and a chance to experience a new culture. This is one reason why many medical tourists decide to recuperate while they are still abroad. you should probably stay in your home country. When flying abroad to receive medical treatment. misdiagnoses. But increasingly. many medical tourism destinations have excellent facilities to care for and entertain recovering patients. 1. pure and simple. Medical tourism is a trade-off. it's strongly recommended all-about-health-tourism. it's always good to have a friend or family member present both during and after the procedure. and thus. you'll need to make postoperative arrangements on your own. However. convenience.

endangered species. low wage. material culture. etc. We have tried our very best to provide contact information and background info for all of the medical facilities listed throughout this Web site. but the ultimate decision rests solely with you. For example in India. no work safety rules or environmentstandards. safari. The other disadvantages are : • Cultural destruction. prostitution.in/2010/05/health-tourism-boon-or-curse-what-is-it.[26] For example.) • Primary products (sun. ski. hustlers. beach. freezes culture as performers. sand. Should problems arise. sex) (little value added. owing to the hospital and/or the doctor not possessing appropriate insurance cover and/or medical indemnity. check out the facilities.) • Development of illegal and/or destructive economic activities (markets for drugs. ski.html 7/12 . desert. suds. drug trade.8/5/13 Health tourism a boon or curse? that you take someone with you. these legal avenues may be unappealing to the medical tourist. Ethical issues There can be major ethical issues around medical tourism. world as play ground. By following the steps outlined in Planning a Medical Vacation. resorts: golf.blogspot. no organizing. patients might not be covered by adequate personal insurance or might be unable to seek compensation via malpractice lawsuits. loss: language. "Doctors in Thailand have become so busy with foreigners that Thai patients are having trouble getting care". While some countries currently presenting themselves as attractive medical tourism destinations provide some form of legal remedies for medical malpractice. rituals. some argue that a "policy of 'medical tourism for the classes and health missions for the masses' will lead to a deepening of the inequities" already embedded in the health care system. Finding the Best Medical Facility Possible When you shop around for hospitals and dental clinics in your neighborhood. this type of in-person reconnaissance becomes a little harder to manage. But with medical tourism. and meet with hospital staff. In Thailand.) • Outside hiring (skilled middle and senior management recruited out of all-about-health-tourism. surf.) • Low benefits (no job security.SUV. 5. neo-colonialism) • Environmental destruction (game drives. Legal issues By traveling outside their home country for medical care.) • Earginal employment (low skill. gambling. Medical tourism may raise broader ethical issues for the countries in which it is promoted. menial services.[26] The limited nature of litigation in non-US countries is one reason for the lower cost of care overseas. in 2008 it was stated that. medical tourists may encounter unfamiliar legal issues. no health care. this necessarily drives up the total price of your medical vacation since you'll have to book flights and hotel reservations for at least two people. However. you can minimize the chances of selecting a medical facility that fails to meet your standards. (modernization (world mono-culture). you can easily visit them in person. religion. the illegal purchase of organs and tissues for transplantation has been alleged in countries such as India and China prior to 2007. Hospitals and/or doctors in some countries may be unable to pay the financial damages awarded by a court to a patient who has sued them.

generally have foreign owners) . after the "tourist" has left the facility. is affected as medical tourism like any other tourism generally tends to overuse water resources for hotels. sometimes even when both parties seemingly speak the same language. The government resorts to deforestation to build more hotels and provide better civil amenities because medical tourism is a way of earning revenue and foreign exchange. In addition. Even natural resources like water.) • Anti-democratic collusion (industry support of repressive governments) • Land controlled by the elite (people relocated.) • Concentration employment (walled resort enclaves.blogspot. prohibited from N. roads. begging.html 8/12 . agriculture eliminated. solid waste and littering. medical tourism is good for a country but the environmental impacts of medical tourism are always negative.) • Seasonal employment • Outside decision making (decisions made outside of the area. hustling) • Diverted and concentrated development (airport. generally highly elastic) • Health tourism (traveling to get medical procedure at lower cost) has it own set of unique challenges. skills and quality of the facility and personnel. noise. even architectural/visual pollution. which could be already in short supply in that country. and personal use of water by the tourists. Different cultural issues and expectations around health care and the body. swimming pools. hot air balloons.) • Unstable market (fickle. substance abuse. oil and chemicals. Posttreatment complications.in/2010/05/health-tourism-boon-or-curse-what-is-it.8/5/13 Health tourism a boon or curse? the area and transferred in. This means that the country where you go for the treatment has to build more hotels to accommodate the ever growing number of patients cum tourists. Language communication challenges on topics requiring a lot of details. booze.) • Negative lifestyle's (STD's. especially fresh water. • Little for ex stays in country (airplanes. Medical tourism creates great pressure on local resources like energy. releases of sewage.development not accessible to locals). water. affected by local and world events. corporate dollars corrupt government . Solutions v Act to support cultural diversity v Engage in activities that add value to the community all-about-health-tourism.) • Unrealistic expectations (divert young people from school and brighter futures. vehicles. medical tourism is also responsible for contributing to increased air emissions.P. • Package programs • Cruises (eat and sleep on board so the economic benefits to the ports-of-call is very thin and limited. electricity to tourist destinations. Environmental Impact Most people going for medical treatment abroad tend to combine travel and tourism along with the medical procedure. food and other raw material. which include: Determining the credential. all which has negative impact on the environment. From fiscal aspect. This results in shortage of water and degradation of water supplies as well as generating large volumes of waste water.

201 1 at 6:44 AM thk u!!!!!!ths ws my seminar! Reply Jaz July 1 4.. Chennai. v Support the traditional cultural legacy v Training and education in local culture. Jay peeHotels. v Select development and activities that draw from local traditions and add value to the community v Don’t promote activities that deteriorate the environment v Don’t engage in illegal activities v Adopt a program to disperse the benefits v Patronize locally produced products and locally (community) owned enterprises. thank y ou man.. 201 1 at 6:25 AM thank u v ery much y ar 4 publishing tis topic coz it helped my project.. natural science.V.. Reply Nav in July 5. Reply Roshan Prabudha Ram July 1 3. etc.S Ne e Ni at 3:23 AM 23 comments: jay pee Nov ember 8. history...html 9/12 ."thanks for this v ery informativ e post and article. Reply Meghav arshini February 1 3. v Make business and foreign exchange transactions transparent and efficient. The result largely depend upon how the business is conducted: Are visitors coming and supporting what the community prides itself in and in a way that perpetuates and sustains (or improves) the quality of life in the community)? Are are the activities of the tourist detrimental to the values.8/5/13 Health tourism a boon or curse? v Don’t do activities that deteriorate the environment v Don’t engage in illegal activities v Act to disperse the benefits v Patronize locally (community) owned enterprises.com offers lux ury hotels in India with 5 star hotels in Delhi. Mumbai. 201 1 at 1 1 :33 AM helped my Seminar.. environment and culture of the community in the long run? Poste d by NEER AJ.. 201 1 at 7 :21 PM all-about-health-tourism.in/2010/05/health-tourism-boon-or-curse-what-is-it. Agra.. 201 0 at 1 1 :08 PM Information in y our blog is v ery awesome & amazing for reading and we offers Hotels In Delhi & Jay pee Hotels Resorts and Palaces are best fiv e star delux e hotel in India at best prices.blogspot. Mussoorie.