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12 Best Countries For Medical Tourism

Many expats who have spent time in other emerging and developed countries may have noticed that some aspects of different healthcare systems were superior to their home country’s healthcare system.

The availability of low-cost and high-quality healthcare is one of many reasons why many people choose to become expats in other countries. If you are a resident of a country in areas such as the Middle East, Asia, or South America, it is crucial to compare the healthcare system of the country you live in with regional peers. You may be able to save 50% or more on your healthcare costs while not having to compromise on quality.

American Hospital Building

American Hospital Building

THE RETURN OF MEDICAL TOURISM

Travel restrictions during 2020-2021 made it very difficult for global hospitals dependent on revenue from medical tourists. However, the long-term demand for medical tourism is still in play, as people from many countries still need to improve in their countries based on cost and quality. The medical tourism industry is projected to grow by around 20% annually through 2025.

Medical tourists typically fall into two categories. Some people from developing countries may travel to more developed countries because of the higher quality of healthcare services. For example, many people travel to the UAE, United States, or Thailand for more expensive procedures. Furthermore, some people from Western countries may fly to destinations in South America or Asia due to lower costs and acceptable quality.

 

Surgery in progress

Having quality procedures for cheap is possible when you think of medical tourism.

OVERVIEW OF OPTIONS

You may be surprised to learn how certain countries rank globally in cost and quality of healthcare services. Western medical tourists may be able to save 50-90% on complex surgeries such as heart bypass surgery, plastic surgery, or knee and hip replacement surgeries. Furthermore, many lower-cost hospitals overseas are well-known and ranked in the top 10 countries globally.

For example, South Korea is ranked 3rd globally for cosmetics surgery and is a popular medical tourism destination. Private hospitals in India can perform a heart bypass surgery for only $4,000-$5,000 USD, a far cry from the costs seen in countries like Canada or the United States. Other countries have also distinguished themselves as prime destinations for issues like; In vitro fertilization, cancer treatment, and dental. Below are eleven countries to consider for medical tourism purposes.

 

Sunset in Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

#12 COLOMBIA

Colombia has a significant potential to be one of the best medical tourism countries. Given its currency, Colombia is often mentioned as a place for expats to retire and live in. It isn't far from the US, Medellin being the best for medical tourism, having nine trauma centers. Their doctors are trained in many places in Europe and US, and most will speak English. They deal with many types of procedures, from cosmetics to injuries and stem-cell procedures.

As mentioned before, Colombia's economy is excellent for dollars and euros. As such, Colombia provides medical tourism not only for the rich and the famous. There have been many procedures made for more modest-income people.

Watch this video for more information it is a great interview I did with an expert in the area from Medellin.

 

 

#11 INDIA

India is an often-overlooked medical tourism destination with much to offer in terms of quality and low costs. The country receives over 2 million medical tourists each year, and the government is strongly committed to increasing these numbers in the future. India is most popular for its low heart bypass surgery cost, which is even lower than Thailand or Malaysia. Not only that, but it also boasts an impressive 98% success rate for high-risk surgery.

 

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India

#10 TAIWAN

Taiwan is another stellar medical tourism destination in Asia that many medical tourists often overlook. Taiwan offers a unique combination of quality and cost savings, although it could be more cost-competitive with hospitals in Thailand or India. Around 12% of the medical tourists that visit Taiwan are from the United States and Europe, while the majority of people who choose Taiwan are from other countries in Asia. Taiwan is known globally for its cancer-treatment centers that offer a combination of traditional treatments and traditional Chinese medicine.

 

Taipei, Taiwan skyline

Taipei, Taiwan skyline

#9 THAILAND

Thailand is a high-quality, low-cost medical tourism destination, attracting medical tourists from Asian, Western, and MENA countries. At the end of 2021, Thailand had 60 JCI-accredited hospitals and medical facilities. Thailand is a popular low-cost option for many types of procedures, including cosmetics, dental work, cardiac surgery, orthopedic procedures, and general health checkups. Thailand is convenient for medical tourists from areas like the Middle East, Australia, or New Zealand, as it is a relatively short flight away. American or Canadian medical tourists may still travel to Thailand occasionally but often prefer hospitals closer to home.

 

Related content: Thailand Immigration - How To Get Residency In Thailand.

 

Grand Palace of Bangkok, Thailand

Grand Palace of Bangkok, Thailand

#8 MALAYSIA

Malaysia is another less well-known medical tourism destination, which is cost-competitive with other countries like Thailand and India. Malaysia is an excellent destination for various expensive surgeries, such as joint replacement or heart bypass surgery. One stand-out area of Malaysia’s medical tourism industry is it's In vitro fertilization testing services, which have attracted wealthy medical tourists from countries like China and Singapore. Another benefit of Malaysian hospitals is that English is commonly used in education, healthcare, and other government services

 

Petronas Tower, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia

Petronas Tower, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia

#7 COSTA RICA

Costa Rica is also gaining traction as a low-cost, high-quality medical tourism destination. Medical tourists from the United States can save 50-70% on medical expenses when travelling to Costa Rica. Furthermore, there is an abundance of high-quality private hospitals, and many doctors in Costa Rica have been trained and studied abroad. Like many countries in the region, Costa Rica is most popular with medical tourists looking for cheaper cosmetics or dental services. However, medical tourists can also consider other procedures like heart surgery or hysterectomies, which can be around 80% cheaper.

Related content: What To Expect While In Costa Rica.

 

San Jose, capital city of Costa Rica

San Jose, Costa Rica

#6 MEXICO

Mexico is another attractive medical tourism destination to consider, mainly for those interested in dental care. Some companies, such as North American Speciality Hospital, even arrange for patients to travel to Mexico for surgeries because the costs will be much lower. Mexico is also an excellent option for Americans and Canadians due to its proximity, as it can make financial sense to fly there for lower-cost procedures. Costs in Mexico can be 50-75% lower than expenses in US hospitals, which makes it worthwhile in many cases to fly to Mexico for treatment.

 

Independence Monument in Mexico City

Independence Monument in Mexico City

#5 CZECH REPUBLIC

Select European countries also offer value to medical tourists looking for cost-saving options that are closer to home. The Czech Republic is one option to consider, as the country has an abundance of international JCI-accredited hospitals. Many medical tourists travel to the Czech Republic for IVF treatment, as the cost is substantially lower in many cases. This country can also be a great destination for medical tourists interested in other surgeries in areas like cardiology, urology, and dentistry. However, comparing costs to more popular medical tourism destinations in Asia may be worthwhile which may be cheaper.

.Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic

#4 SOUTH KOREA

Medical tourists who travel to South Korea can save up to 70-80% on some surgeries, even when visiting high-quality hospitals. South Korean hospitals can perform joint replacement surgeries for less than $25,000 USD and offer cost savings on other procedures such as rhinoplasty. Most medical tourists who visit South Korea choose to visit for plastic surgery, as South Korea is well-known globally in this area.

Related content: How You Can Become A Resident In The Beautiful Country Of Malaysia.

 

Busan, South Korea aerial view at night

Busan, South Korea

#3 SINGAPORE

Singapore is another excellent medical tourism destination in Asia, particularly for those who are less cost sensitive and looking for higher-quality services. Although medical prices in Singapore are lower than that of other countries like the United States or Canada, the costs can still be nearly double those in different hospitals in Thailand or Malaysia. Singapore can be an excellent destination for cardiology, neurology, oncology, and other procedures. Patients from Western countries may still be able to save 50% on some procedures, although Singapore is still more expensive than other Asian countries mentioned in this article in most cases.

Related content: Permanent Residency in Singapore.

 

Singapore City

Singapore City

#2 PANAMA

American and Canadian medical tourists looking for options closer to home most typically start with Panama, which is well-balanced in terms of cost and quality. Countries like Panama are great for procedures that cost $10,000 or less, as it may not be worthwhile to fly to Asia for a minor procedure. Moreover, specific procedures in Panama can be a better deal than in other countries like Mexico or Costa Rica. The relatively lower wages in Panama allow hospitals to offer surgeries at a much lower rate while still retaining high-quality standards. Some options to consider in Panama include eye surgery, dental care, and cosmetic surgery.

Related content: Why Digital Nomads Should Consider The Czech Republic.

 

Panama City

Panama City

#1 UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

The United Arab Emirates is another extremely popular destination for medical tourists. The United Arab Emirates has 8 JCI accredited hospitals, and many doctors in the country have been trained in the United States or Europe. The UAE is an excellent destination for many surgeries, but the two most popular options include dental surgery and cancer treatment. The UAE can offer cost savings for some Western medical tourists, although its main appeal is the higher quality relative to regional peers.

Related content: Residency In The UAE: How To Easily Move To The United Arab Emirates.

 

Dubai skylin

Dubai Skyline

Conclusion

Medical tourism has been around for many years and is only growing. There are many other unlisted countries as I decided to write about the best in price with quality. Some on the list are for specialized treatments and not so much overall medical. This list should be a good starting point for those looking for some procedure they need for cheaper.

 

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Mikkel Thorup

Written by Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments including international real estate, timber plantations, agricultural land and other hard-money tangible assets. Mikkel is the Founder and CEO at Expat Money™, a private consulting firm started in 2017. He hosts the popular weekly podcast, the Expat Money Show, and wrote the definitive #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets - How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money.

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