What Is Medical Tourism? A Complete Guide

Medical tourism. It is something that has gained more popularity over the years as our world gets more and more accessible. 

There are up to 16 million people globally who travel for medical tourism reasons each year. 

If you are reading this, you may be asking, what is medical tourism? What are the benefits of having medical procedures abroad? What are the most well known medical tourism countries? 

This guide will answer all of those questions and more. 

What Is Medical Tourism? 

Medical tourism is when someone travels to another country specifically for healthcare reasons. This can be general doctor’s visits or medication that happens to be cheaper abroad. 

It can be to go to a location that specializes in certain types of medication, certain types of surgeries, getting more value for your money, and more. 

The point is that if someone goes abroad primarily for healthcare, they would be considered a medical tourist. We will dive into each of the reasons mentioned below. 

Saving Money 

One of the top reasons why people seek medical treatment abroad is to save money. This is particularly true for Americans. 

Americans know very well how expensive healthcare can be even if they have health insurance. If you do not have health insurance, it could potentially cost you everything up to the shirt on your back. 

For people that can’t handle those costs or simply are not willing to pay those costs, they may seek healthcare elsewhere. Depending on what country you go to and what country you are coming from, you could be paying pennies on the dollar for the same treatment you may get in your home country. 

While it is not recommended to automatically go to the cheapest country you can find for medical treatment, it is smart to look into places that can give you similar treatment for significantly less money. 

Value for the Money 

Going off of the point above, medical tourism is more than just about saving money on medical treatment. You also want to be sure that you are still receiving quality healthcare. 

While some countries may be ridiculously expensive when it comes to healthcare, you still need to be careful about whom you let treat you. After all, you only have one body, and you still need to take care of that body. 

With that said, you are going to want to look into places that offer quality healthcare. Believe it or not, the place that has the most expensive healthcare is not the only one that can do a good job. 

Compare prices of certain countries and doctors with the reputation they have in the healthcare industry. If you look hard enough, you are likely to find somewhere that is both affordable for you and can provide above average healthcare. 

Going to a Specialist 

Another reason why people may travel for medical tourism is that there are more specialists in other countries for a certain field than in their own country. 

An example can be if you have a disease like pancreatic cancer that is more difficult to treat once spotted. These can be dire circumstances for people seeking this kind of treatment.

So, they may be willing to go to an area that specializes in this area. The treatment could end up saving their life in cases like this. For less severe areas that doctors specialize in, you can ensure that you are getting exactly what you want or the best treatment possible depending on what the need is. 

Experimenting With Alternative Treatment

Going off of the above example, some people that are desperate for treatment may be willing to go anywhere to try alternative treatment. An example could be you or a loved one sticking to chemotherapy for cancer and it is not working. 

Some parts of the world authorize their doctors to use certain medical treatments and certain medications that other parts of the world are not willing to approve. 

This can happen a lot in the United States, for example. The Food and Drug Administration has rigorous standards, and it could take years for a new medicine to pass through all of the protocols in that organization. 

As a result, Americans may look overseas for treatment they need immediately. 

Most Popular Medical Tourism Countries 

So, where do people go to seek out medical tourism? Well, you have to look at places that are near some of the richer countries. 

An example of this is Mexico. It is the United States’ neighbor, so people that are looking to save on the high medical costs in the latter take a trip down to the former. 

In Asia, two countries that benefit from this model are Thailand and Malaysia. Both of these countries rank highly in terms of quality of healthcare. This gets even better when you consider the value for the money. 

However, what makes them stand out is that they offer better treatment than most of their neighbors while not being as expensive as places like Singapore. You can keep up with hot medical tourism destinations at expos and fairs found at

Seek Out Medical Tourism 

What is medical tourism? For a lot of people, it can be the option they need to improve their life. 

This is an option that allows people to get the medical treatment they want without having to pay an arm and a leg for it. For some people in this group, it could be the alternative treatment that saves their lives. 

Do you want to know more about this? See articles in our Travel section


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