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Medical Tourism in India [An overview]

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We all know about India the tourist attraction. Millions of people from around the world visit India, touring the country and taking in all it has to offer, from its unique culture to the inimitable landscape and scenery. Tourists from around the globe fly to India and come to see the famous Taj Mahal, to tour the capital of New Delhi, to relax on the beautiful beaches of Goa, to climb the Himalayas, to witness the sacred Ganges River and many more main famous tourist attractions and activities.

The incoming tourists are of all ages as it can be young and adventurous visitors coming to explore the land, touring the country for weeks or even months and experiencing everything India has to offer and it can be older visitors who come on an organized trip for a week or two and see all the major tourist attractions going home satisfied.

Statistics show that India receives a bit over 5 million tourists a year and it is safe to say the majority of this number does come to India for sightseeing. However, a small percentage of this number comes for a completely different primary reason, and that is to undergo medical surgery in the country.

Medical Tourism in India

Medical Tourism

As strange as this may sound, India receives hundreds of thousands of tourists that come in to the country to undergo medical treatments, then leaving the country and going back home. It is called "Medical Tourism" and it is a blooming global industry as India has become a main medical tourism hub.

This phenomenon of people traveling across national borders for medical care has existed for centuries. However, only in the recent decades has it really taken off and fully blossomed, as patients have realized that they have options other than receiving local medical treatment and it is their right to check elsewhere and take advantage of the fact that the improvement of the means of transportation along with the internet is turning our world into a "global village".

The major reason people are traveling abroad for treatments are the high medical costs as many patients do not have proper medical insurance (or any at all) and when in need of surgery, they cannot afford to pay for it. Surgery abroad can lower the cost to 33%-50% of the price in the USA for example.

Long waiting lists is another cause people will travel abroad for medical care as they prefer to have surgery on their own terms, earlier than later. Patients will rather not live in discomfort for extensive periods of time and rather have the same surgery abroad much faster. A final reason can be that another country has a better or more advanced medical technology and research in the specific field of surgery and the patient will prefer to travel to that destination.

Medical Tourism in India

India was one of the first countries to recognize the potential of medical tourism and today is the leading destination for global medical tourists. Already in 2004, India has received 150,000 medical tourists and this number has grown by a whopping 33% by 2008 to 200,000 inbound medical tourists. It is estimated that by the year 2015, India will receive over half a million annual medical tourists annually.

This is no coincidence; India’s private medical sector offers the most advance medical treatments and technology available in the world today. Patients can come in and enjoy deluxe accommodations and be treated by the finest doctors that have western medical training, all for the lowest prices. In addition to this, patients are not expected to face any language barriers as a most of the population in India speaks English.

The government in the country is supporting this industry as well, assisting hospitals in acquiring the JCI accreditations and awarding funds for renovations and add-ons, everything they can do to improve both the private and public medical sectors in the country.

And if all this isn’t enough, after receiving medical treatment and recovering, patients are free to keep traveling and enjoy a vacation in India and the countries surrounding it as India is located in the heart of East Asia.

Medical Tourism Services in India

A patient can travel to India for just about any medical procedure he or she needs to have done. The most common major surgeries patients fly in for is open heart surgery and orthopedic joint replacement surgery as these are very expensive types of necessary surgery if you do not have proper medical insurance. Indian hospitals today excel in these kinds of treatments and there are many hospitals specialize in both medicine fields.

Cosmetic procedures are also a very popular type of procedure to have done in India since medical insurance does not usually cover this kind of operation and the costs can be fairly high. Patients will travel for any plastic surgery, starting from breast augmentation and enlargements to complete facelifts and tummy tucks.

There are many private hospitals in India as some stand out with world renowned names. "Apollo Hospitals" is a main Indian chain that runs 53 different hospitals with over 8,500 beds. "Max Healthcare" is another known private hospital chain that runs eight medical centers in the national capital region in India.

If you are considering traveling abroad for medical treatments, be sure to include India in your research. This country hasn’t become the leading medical tourism destination by accident!

[This Article has been written by Stuart Ben, A professional medical tourism facilitator. You can read more about medical tourism in India here: Hospitals in India : TicketMed]

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  1. bora says

    I had a good experience getting a Lap band procedure done in India. Initially I was a little apprehensive but once I landed at the hospital, the experience turned out really well. The doctors were very professional and the infrastructure was impressive. I took help from folks at http://www.india4health.com and they helped me arrange the treatment and stay in Goa. Its been 7 months now and I look great. I wish the doctors and the staff success. Definitely visit Goa and Kerala if you get a chance.

  2. Claire says

    Medical tourism in India has opened new horizon for international patients where one can get quality treatment at affordable price. The cost is about 1/4th price when compared to any medically developed country. Every year more than 2 million international people travel to India for various treatment and surgery, shows the popularity of medical tourism in India.

  3. Aniruddh says

    1. Medical procedures is limited by resources-medicine, but not those of skills and time of doctors – because only these can lead to increase the prices.
    2. Medical procedures’ prices are under pressure from two ends, demand as well as competition and not supply. To maintain competition, prices will be kept low.
    3. Medical tourism also gives an opportunity to subsidise other patients. Differential pricing for patients can be a stable model.
    4. With these hospitals’ services never under pressure because of their high prices, its hard to understand how anyone is worse off. Its better utilisation of services, because idle services are not revenue generating.
    5. Last, with increasing inflow of foreign exchange, we could actually perk up our own Public healthcare system to offer subsidised procedures that are otherwise unaffordable to the common man.

  4. Deepak says

    Medical Tourism to India from the western world has been developing for some time, and is bringing extra revenue to the medical industry as well as the Govt, but I don;t think many people have thought about it’s implications on the common man.

    India has already got a small number of doctors and even small number of hospitals. Our hospitals and doctors are over streched due to lack of resources.

    Imagine the following hypothetical scenario and numbers

    Let’s assume that cost of knee replacement in USA is $20000 whereas the assumed cost of such procedure in India is $5000, so we are getting patients from abroad for such an elective procedure.

    Due to our limited resources, if we can only do 1000 knee replacement surgeries, these places will soon be taken up by overseas patients leading to cost going up as it happens in a free market.

    So now it costs $10000 for the same operation, which is still a saving for a US resident but this elective operation is suddenly out of reach for many indians.

    Now imagine this happening with not one operation but hundreds of other procedures.

    This would be disastrous for the society in large unless it is regulated and only a fixed number of procedures are allowed to used for medical tourism or these are highly taxed.

    Health is not like banking, IT or call centers and has to be dealt differently, this is a time for every indian to get some form of medical support at a reasonable cost, not for every indian to find it difficult to get to see any doctor.

    That’s my 2 cents…

  5. Rajesh says

    There are more than 50 countries that have declared Medical Tourism as a national industry. And Aurangabad in Maharashtra, India is fast growing as one of the most preferred hubs for Medical Tourism.
    Joint Replacement & Aurangabad Medical Tourism India

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