Medical tourism: a global view

Medical tourism has had considerable growth in recent years.



Written by BL. Fernando Doblado R.


Medical tourism has had considerable growth in recent years due to the opportunities provided in health care destinations that are other than the countries of origin of the patient.


The high cost of health services in some places, waiting times for various medical procedures, technological advances and the availability of international travel, are factors that have contributed to the rise in popularity of this type of tourism.


Surveys of the Medical Tourism Association (MTA) indicate that more than half of health tourism is destined in the United States; but it is increasingly growing the competition in countries such as Germany, Saudi Arabia, China, Denmark, among others, which are certified by the Joint Commission International (JCI), an institution that certifies quality in terms of the service.


In this scenario you cannot lose sight of Latin America, which is already a mandatory reference when talking about medical services for tourism. The proximity to the United States and Canada and moderate costs are the factors of greatest benefit Mexico offers to these countries which results in the rapid growth of this sector in our country.

An investigation made by the firm Calvet & Associates in October 2011, states that the medical tourism industry is based mainly on the uninsured patient (without Medicare), which has little coverage or needs not covered elective procedures by their insurance. It also points to an ethnic market based in more developed countries.


Similarly it refers to three global trends that suggest that leaders of health systems should consider patients as consumers. In the first place the medical innovations that provide solutions which help consumers take care of themselves; the second place is the reduction of budgets that some governments and employers face; thirdly, the increase attention of health care that people are showing, as they never did before, said Paul H. Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.


Among the Latin American countries that stand out on this service, is our country, according to recent statements by Carlos Slim Domit: “Not investing in Mexico today is a risk, given the dynamism that is entering the country, and medical tourism is a sector that is not exempt.”


In Mexico, achievements such as the creation of the first insurance for medical tourism and the creation of the Mexican Council of Medical Tourism Industry mark a pattern in the rapid growth of this industry, which places it in a situation of “enormous potential for the medical tourism to become one of the major axes of growth of the tourism sector in the country”, as mentioned by President Enrique Peña Nieto, when announcing the national tourism program.


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