Medical Tourism: What is it?

Jul 8, 2016

Medical tourism is a popular practice, albeit a controversial one in some parts of the world. There are often misconceptions associated with medical tourism, leading to people not knowing exactly what it is or holding misinformed opinions on the matter. Here is an overview of everything you need to know about medical tourism.

What is Medical Tourism?

Medical tourism is the practice of travelling abroad to receive medical treatment or to undergo a cosmetic procedure. People use medical tourism to access a wide range of procedures.

There are two main trends in medical tourism today:

  • People travelling from less developed countries to developed locations to access treatments not available in their own country
  • People travelling from developed countries to locations where treatment may be cheaper or quicker to access

History of Medical Tourism

While medical tourism is considered a relatively modern phenomenon, it actually dates to at least the fourth century BC. Medical records discovered dating back to Ancient Greece at this time mention pilgrims that travelled from across Europe in order to be treated in the small city of Epidaurus. A more recent historic example of medical tourism, albeit on a local scale, was people with illnesses in 18th century England who would travel to visit spa towns with the aim of finding treatment. It is unknown whether this trend was seen in other countries that have spa towns.

How Popular is Medical Tourism?

A news report from the website in 2014 stated that as many as 15,000 Australians undergo medical procedures abroad, spending as much as $300 million in the process.

Why is Medical Tourism so Popular?

There are several reasons why medical tourism is popular. The main reasons typically given by those seeking a medical tourism solution, and as already stated earlier, are that they can both reduce costs and access treatment quicker, while still receiving an excellent standard of treatment and care, by looking abroad.

Advances in medical care and expertise around the world mean that individuals can save significant sums of money by choosing to undergo a procedure away from home, even after considering the costs of flights and accommodation. There are clinics in some countries that even operate with the sole purpose of attracting clients from overseas.

Which Medical Tourism Destinations are the Most Popular?

Several countries around the world are hugely popular for medical tourism. Some countries are popular due to their proximity to densely populated nations, while others prove popular because they are easy to get to, offer cheap treatment as well as accommodation, offer reduced waiting times, and in some cases because they’re a desirable destination to take a holiday!

In terms of proximity to Australia, popular medical tourism destinations include:
Thailand; which is the most popular medical tourism destination in the whole world as well as among Australians

  • New Zealand
  • Malaysia
  • Hong Kong
  • Singapore

How to Find Treatment Abroad 

If you are considering seeking medical treatment, for whatever condition or procedure, abroad, you should ensure you do so with caution. Paramount in seeking medical treatment abroad is ensuring you are going to be safe, way before you start thinking about being able to save money on your procedure.

The best approach to take is to only consider being treated at clinics that are accredited with the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards International (ACHSI). This will help ensure that you’re receiving the equivalent standards of care that you would in Australia, and help to ease any doubts or worries you may have over your treatment.

In addition, you should also look at reviews and testimonials from those that have already been treated at the clinics you are considering. Thanks to social media you might even be able to identify and contact previous patients direct if they have been open about where they have been and the treatment they have received.

Covering the Costs of Medical Tourism

In some cases, even if a specific treatment is much cheaper abroad, you might still find yourself struggling to cover the costs. MacCredit might be able to help provide you with a medical loan even if the treatment is to be undertaken outside of Australia. You can contact us today on 1300 884 355 to discuss your options if you are considering using medical tourism for your medical treatment or cosmetic procedure.


Disclaimer:  This article contains general comments and recommendations only.  This article has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before taking any action you should consider the appropriateness of the comments made in the article, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. If this article relates to the acquisition, or possible acquisition, of a particular credit product you should obtain and consider the relevant disclosure documents before applying for the product.

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