Updated: May 2
The cost of medical care services has been on the constant rise for the past couple of decades. Such a trend is not unique to the United States, even though the country currently is at the top of the list of global healthcare crises.
Escalation of insurance premiums over decades has forced patients to avoid healthcare and fall back into an unhealthy lifestyle.
In addition, with the increasing healthcare costs, so are the millennial and generation Z expectations.
Today, the new generation does their research, intend to take control of their health, and expects upfront cost estimates.
Millennials and Generation Z are tech-savvy and want healthcare technology and more. For them staying healthy is more than just living without disease. This generation continues shopping around for insurance and healthcare services that meet their expectations.
The younger population quickly expands their search across geographic boundaries to find what they seek. Thus, that is the driving factor for developing the medical tourism market.
10 Reasons Behind Medical Tourism Expansion
Without a doubt, the medical tourism market surge is an indicator of growing Public expectations of personalized medical care.
Nevertheless, one can point out ten reasons patients find medical tourism a viable alternative.
First and foremost, medical tourism is a cost-effective alternative to what they typically receive in their home country. Naturally, patients explore the possibility of care away from home if they get the Bang for the buck.
Medical tourism also offers shorter wait times to get the treatment they want. It is by far the fastest way to get a concierge treatment.
Another major deciding factor for patients is getting the best medical care possible. This is an essential factor, as having a medical procedure in a strange country and place is always a challenging decision. However, weighing the risks and benefits often is reasonable.
Medical tourism offers more options and a wide range of top-notch procedures from which they can choose.
Medical tourism ensures access to those resources if a patient's problem requires a specialist with specific skill sets only available abroad.
Other reasons for choosing medical tourism include the availability of alternative treatments and access to cutting-edge technology, hospitals, and clinics offering services.
Medical tourism also allows patients to explore new destinations around the globe, offering the chance to enjoy a vacation concomitantly.
According to a report published in IMARC, the global medical tourism market size reached an all-time high of US$97.3 billion in 2022. That trend is expected to continue through 2023 and beyond at a CAGR of 23.6%.
Medical tourism is an organized international trip and excursion when a patient travels to maintain, enhance, or restore health. Although medical disciplines medical tourists seek are diverse. Nonetheless, the most common ones include the following:
Cosmetic procedures, including breast reduction and Tummy tuck surgery
Dental treatment like dental implant and root canal procedures
Cardiovascular medicine, such as Coronary artery bypass procedure
Orthopaedic Treatment, like hip replacement surgery
Bariatric or weight reduction surgery
Fertility Treatment and invitro fertilization
Ophthalmic or eye procedures like LASIK or cataract surgeries
One and the most likely reason people choose medical tourism is that they need help finding solutions that meet their expectations at home. The disposition of those expectations is also diverse based on their home country's legal and socioeconomic status and knowledge of their health and healthcare.
For instance, in a developed country where high-quality medical services exist but are costly, patients may seek medical care from countries where the same care is available at a lower cost. Or the same patient may take on medical tourism if a particular procedure or treatment is legally prohibited at home.
On the other hand, those who live in a 3rd world countries would be willing to pay high costs to receive high-quality care internationally.
As mentioned earlier, the motivation to seek medical care is not unilateral for any country, regardless of socioeconomic and legal standing. And indeed, it is not limited to the United States.
For instance, Travis Kraft, Founder and CEO of Passport Medical, a GHA-accredited medical travel facilitator, notes in medical tourism magazine:
“Right now in Canada, there is a three-and-a-half year wait list for knee replacement surgeries, and it is going to get worse as people age.”
Americans, likewise, travel to Mexico to receive stem cell treatments, as some services may not be legally permitted in the country.
As global medical tourism enters 2023, medical travel market reports may face "cautious optimism" post-COVID-19 pandemic. However, that hesitation is most likely temporary with loosening travel restrictions, gaining economic confidence, and implementing pan vaccination.
Millennials are Spending More and More on Medical Tourism and Wellness Tourism
A novel nitch, "Wellness Tourism, " rests within the medical tourism market spectrum." The latter is a fast-growing submarket with US$2.6 trillion industry potential. Millennials travel internationally to seek health maintenance and lifestyle change using holistic and other preventative care modalities.
Consumer interest and purchasing power have recently fueled the disruption of medical and wellness tourism, particularly in response to the two-year COVID-19 lockdown. The medical tourism market is becoming more competitive and crowded, thus necessitating well-planned and robust competition strategies for those who want to penetrate this demand.