Mexico is becoming a top medical tourism destination for patients from around the world.
Over one million people are expected to travel to Mexico this year for affordable or alternative medical procedures, most hailing from the United States, where healthcare costs keep rising.
Part of the attraction is its unconventional cancer treatments, which are either too expensive to access in patients’ home countries or not approved.
Mexico’s medical tourism industry generates over 3 billion dollars a year, and new clinics and health facilities are currently under construction.
Some medical professionals warn however that patients have to be cautious in choosing their medical facility, as not all of them are up to international standards.
Medical Tourism, making Hawai’i the destination of choice for patients seeking non-emergency health care services, has long-time support from the visitor industry. Hawai’i Tourism Authority Board of Directors chair, Rick Fried.
“I think we will appeal to tourists from China, Japan and other places in Asia. It’ll be, we believe, a high-end tourist that will come here and go to high-end places so I don’t think we’ll be competing with some of the less expensive options that are available in places like Thailand and India. We generally think on the tourism board that it’s a great opportunity for Hawaii.”
Dr. Ira Zunin is a physician and CEO of a consulting firm focused on re-imagining healthcare services for the 21st century.
“We don’t want to compete, head-to-head, with Mayo Clinic, M.D. Anderson, Memorial Sloane Kettering, with Cleveland Clinic, because to be really world class in a medical setting you need 3 or 4 million people. We don’t have enough of all the sub-specialists. So what we have to do is we have to leverage the spirit of Aloha, the beautiful environment, the clean air, the sand and surf and the host culture.”
David Watumull, CEO of Cardax, an anti-inflammatory supplement and drug company, says Hawai’i already has a brand.
“We need to create our own unique experience here in Hawai’i. If we focus on something that is, I think, one of the key interests of people around the world today and that is aging, wellness and health. Not just a specific cardiovascular disease or cancer or other major disease but health, wellness,longevity and aging.”
For decades, San Diego has traded on its reputation for year-round sun, a captivating coastline and family-friendly attractions to woo tourists. But enticing visitors with the promise of lifesaving treatments by acclaimed physicians and hospitals has never been offered up as a selling point.
A coalition of civic, tourism and business leaders, joined by San Diego’s four major hospitals, is launching a medical tourism initiative they hope will draw more well-heeled patients and their families to the region than any one hospital could attract on its own.
Dubbed DestinationCare San Diego, the effort has been seeded with an initial investment of $150,000, including $100,000 from businessman and longtime philanthropist Malin Burnham, who has been guiding the nascent effort for the last several years.
Medical tourism to Thailand from the UAE is expected to remain strong despite changes to health insurance policies in Abu Dhabi, according to Thailand’s tourism agency.
In April, Health Authority Abu Dhabi cut benefits for expats covered by insurer Daman, and Emiratis under its Thiqa programme, to check medical expenses and encourage medical treatment in Abu Dhabi. It is now more expensive for some patients to seek treatments abroad.
Emiratis who seek treatment abroad, including in Thailand, are either self-paying or do so at the expense of the Ministry of Health.
“[The changes in health policy] is a concern, but only Abu Dhabi patients will be impacted by this,” said Tanes Petsuwan, the deputy governor for international markets at the Tourism Authority of Thailand (Tat). “We have seen no impact yet of the changes in health insurance policies in Abu Dhabi. We are still optimistic [about the numbers from the UAE] as we capitalise on our prices, the range of treatments available, and [short] waiting period.”
He was speaking on the sidelines of the International Medical Travel Exhibition and Conference in Dubai yesterday.
Last year, Thailand received 150,000 medical tourists from the UAE, a 2.5 per cent increase over 2014.
“Thailand will remain a viable medical tourism destination for the people from the UAE,” Mr Petsuwan said.
The Ministry of Health supports [such a] medical tourism sector that is directed by the private sector based on competitive prices,” Hassan Qazizadeh-Hashemi said in an address to a medical tourism conference held here on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, the country is far less developed in the field of medical tourism, and improving such services will be carried out by the private sector assistance,” IRNA quoted Qazizadeh-Hashemi say saying.
“The Ministry of Health welcomes prospects of attracting foreign patients with competitive tariffs.”
“If we want health tourism to flourish, we need to trigger the private sector to become more vigorous in this regard while competition must be in terms of service quality and cheaper prices. There are many patients who care about the costs of medical services,” the official explained.
Referring to health and medical tourism as a highly competitive market, the minister said “If medical tourism services are offered with adequate quality and wallet-friendly prices, the country would attract greater number of health tourists not only from neighboring countries but also from all over the globe including the U.S., Europe, India and China.”
Tourists who travel to Iran to receive medical services will be charged half the regular visa issuance fee, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs Hassan Qashqavi said on the sidelines of the conference.
“Medical tourists and their companions can also travel back and forth to Iran during the course of treatment,” Qashqavi added.
Last year, some 30,000 visas were issued for medical tourists who travelled to Iran, the deputy minister said. “Owing to the skilled physicians, and properly equipped hospitals the Islamic Republic of Iran can become a regional hub for medical tourism.”
Local bodies and tourism minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Wednesday said Punjab was working on a plan to develop medical tourism in key cities of the state.
Sidhu said there was a long waiting list for surgeries in metropolitan cities and patients in Delhi and other places would prefer Punjab instead for medical treatment. “Punjab can use its prime land in places like Ropar, which is close to Chandigarh, or Patiala and Amritsar, as equity and collaborate with world class players for setting up state-of-the-art services,” he said.
The minister added that the presence of two international airports for Punjabi diaspora spread in over 67 countries, besides proximity to large markets such as Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, besides passing out of more than 16,000 medical professionals each year would also give a boost to medical tourism in the state.
“Emergence of Punjab on medical tourism map would result in employment generation and would also result in pouring in of investments and FDI contributing towards boosting of the economic infrastructure,” Sidhu said.
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