Medical tourism and dental tourism is a growing phenomenon and some countries now have their own specialty: heart operation in India, liver transplant in Thailand, breast surgery in Morocco … and dental care in Hungary. Obviously, they are not the only countries to have developed this type of tourism, which brings large income to the economy of their countries.
In India, medical tourism provides opportunities and attracts 1 million tourists per year, contributing up to $ 5 billion to its economy, according to a study by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Prices comparison: A heart surgery in the U.S. costs $ 30,000 while it costs $ 6,000 in India. Bone marrow transplantation in the U.S. costs $ 250,000 while it is $ 26,000 in India.
According to the National Coalition on Health Care (U.S.), more than 500,000 Americans traveled abroad to receive medical and dental treatment in 2006. Each year, millions of patients around the world flock to destinations for 5 stars health care at incredible prices. Experts predict that by 2012 the medical and dental tourism will become a $ 100 billion domain, with more than 780 million patients who travel abroad to receive services from doctors, dentists in clinics and hospitals abroad. This is without counting the sector in constant progress of alternative medicine.
There are four distinct phenomena that contribute to the development of these activities:
1) disparities in living standards between countries, that allow a least developed country to lower the cost of care compared with a more developed country. Thus, The Economist cites a study which estimates that a U.S. resident can save up to 85% on medical expenses by receiving treatment abroad.
2) disparities in health care infrastructure, which will lead, for example, a British citizen who is covered by the ultra-state-NHS to seek a care package in a country such as France, sometimes through bilateral agreements between countries, because of a failing adequate supply of care in his own country.
3) disparities in laws / regulations that will result in a rise in surgical procedures in some countries, because of high insurance premiums paid by practitioners and reflected in their tariffs or result in limit access to certain medical service such as abortion or sterilization.
4) the opening of borders, especially in the area of goods and services that allows a practitioner of country X to hold consultations in country Y and schedule a medical procedure in a country Z. The opening of borders is also linked to more rapid dissemination of information, which allows medical centers of a country to receive greater access to potential customers abroad.
5) development of the Internet is another such recent phenomena that accelerates this transformation. More and more people are familiar with the procedures for web search. Attending the forums, blogs and visiting search engines on dental tourism, they gathered important information and obtain the views of persons who received such dental care abroad.
It may also be noted that the choice of destinations is strongly influenced by the language spoken in the host country. Thus, a french patient wishing to receive some treatment will more spontaneously go to a French-speaking countries such as Tunisia and Morocco, while an English one will look to Eastern Europe, South Africa, India, Mexico or Costa Rica.