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Medical and Dental Tourism


Medical and dental tourism is defined as moving to a country other than his country of residence to receive medical or dental care.  Dental tourism is characterized by a global offer to include not only dental care but  travel arrangements and post treatment care.

 Dental tourism is defined as the act of travel and staying at least one night outside his place of habitual residence.  We call those who made this trip "dental tourist".  It is currently a global trend.  People in rich countries such as USA, Canada and some countries in Western Europe visit poor countries like those in Eastern Europe, Africa, the Asia or South America to undergo esthetic surgery, general surgery, dental or eye treatment.

 Thus, an increasing number of Europeans, Americans, Canadians, go, for example, to Cuba, Mexico, Costa Rica, Tunisia, India, Thailand, Hungary and Romania, to undergo aesthetic surgery or dental treatment and enjoy the stay.  There are even travel agencies and tour operators who work in this field.

 We can not forget the birth of various associations who recruit members to enjoy a holiday and dental treatment in countries with a very attractive tourist area.  The packages they offer to patients is a  2 in 1, including dental or surgical procedure and the stay: everything at a price 3 to 5 times cheaper  than in Western Europe, in Canada or in the United States.

Dental Tourism Description

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.

Countries involved in dental and medical tourism
For several years, the phenomenon has spread worldwide: Asia, Eastern Europe, South America and now North Africa (Tunisia, Morocco) have invaded this sector.  Nearly 12 million tourists mainly from rich countries travel to those countries each year for medical procedures: cosmetic surgery, heart surgery, hip or knee replacement, dental treatments. 

While some South American countries mainly specialize in plastic surgery, others have chosen dentistry or ophthalmology.  At the top of the line of countries offering acts of plastic surgery, come to Brazil, Bolivia and Costa Rica.  They took advantage of a strong international image representing Latin women still in top international beauty contest.  Then the Maghreb: Tunisia, Morocco. In Europe, other countries have specialized in dentistry such as Hungary, Romania or the Czech Republic. Thailand and India have specialized in organ transplants, specialties in cardiology and open heart surgeries.

 More recently, there has been the development of reproductive tourism where patients visit some countries such as Mexico, to benefit from the technology of in vitro fertilization or other assisted reproductive technologies.  This is because it is now forbidden to pay donors of sperm and ova in some countries (like Canada), pursuant to laws on assisted procreation.  Consequence: there is now a shortage of reproductive material or very long waiting lists in some countries.  An increasing number of infertile couples seek donors while abroad. 

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