News / Asia

Asia Cashing in on Medical Tourism

Indian doctor Praveen Chandra checks on an American patient Greg Goodell from Iowa after a his successful heart operation at a hospital in New Delhi, India, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2006,
Indian doctor Praveen Chandra checks on an American patient Greg Goodell from Iowa after a his successful heart operation at a hospital in New Delhi, India, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2006,
Ira Mellman

Much has been reported about the rapidly expanding Asian economy. Perhaps one of the fastest growing aspects of many Asian economies is medical tourism, with India, South Korea and Thailand leading the way.

“Medical tourism is the travel of individuals from a home country like the U.S., Britain, even Singapore, Thailand in the region to a destination for the primary purpose of seeking medical care," said Glenn Cohen, the Co-director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at the Harvard University law school.

He said medical tourism comes in what he terms "three flavors".

“The first flavor ,especially in the U.S., is uninsured or underinsured individuals who are doing price shopping. By one estimate, getting angioplasty out of pocket in the United States would cost about $98,000. If you’re getting it in Thailand or Singapore you’re looking at $13,000. So huge cost saving is one aspect of looking for medical travel abroad. A second group of people are people who have insurance coverage that gives them an incentive to go abroad. We have a little bit of that in the U.S. And then a third category are individuals who are seeking to avoid domestic prohibition or unavailability of a service. For example, a lot of Irish engage in what could be called 'abortion tourism', [where] people travel to Switzerland for assisted suicide and people travel elsewhere for stem cell therapy and the like, and of course to India for surrogacy tourism and the like," he said.

Cohen says this has translated into big businesses around the world.

“Cuba in 2004 made about $20 million on medical tours and Jordan made about $500 million. It's estimated that by 2012, India will be looking at about $2.2 billion in revenue. This is a very fast growing industry and a number of countries are making a very concerted effort to corner at least the regional market. There is some division as to the kind of services they offer. But it’s a very lucrative industry and there are also all kinds of other players who we call intermediaries or facilitators who try to arrange travel for you and kind of act as concierges in some way in the industry," he said.

Asia is a particularly fast growing market for medical tourism. A recent report from the Indian market research company RNCOS predicts a growth rate of over 17.5 percent in Asia by next year.

Among the leaders in Asian medical tourism are India, South Korea and Thailand. China wants to be part of that group.

According to Dr. David Vequist, who heads the Center for Medical Tourism Research in San Antonio, Texas, they are doing just that.

"China is interested in developing a medical tourism specialty and in fact there are efforts going on in places like Shanghai in order to develop a medical hub. It would be similar to what the Koreans have done or the Japanese have done or Thailand, or some of these other countries that have been active in medical tourism, India, for example," he said.

According to Vequist, China, due to its huge population, may have an edge over other countries.

“China, as a country has quite a few people who travel within the country for health care and increasingly have people who travel outside the country for health care. The majority of the health care facilities inside the country don’t necessarily have a great global reputation for health care. Gallup recently released a study that shows that 15 percent of Chinese citizens are travelling within the country to find better health care. And what we’re finding is as Chinese tourism picks up around the world, we’re seeing more and more Chinese nationals going to other countries and receiving surgeries and pharmaceuticals and other types of health care outside of China," he said.

Vequist says a growing medical tourism reputation inside China might lead to those people seeking treatment in their own country.

While the expanding world of medical tourism is undoubtedly good for economies, there are some major concerns that need to be addressed.

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid