As it becomes increasingly evident the numbers of people traveling to receive both elective and essential health care procedures, there are no doubt certain counties who are forerunners in the heath tourism industry. In fact, several have associations with hospitals and organizations in the US, Canada and the UK. Reviewing the Joint Commission International website, several hundred hospitals outside the US and Canada have been accredited by the body. They state that "more than 300 public and private health care organizations in 39 countries have been accredited by JCI". Of course, some of these countries are more popular than others so we will look at the top five most popular countries for health tourism.
India appears to be a country that all medical concierges in Canada and the US are eager to recommend. Both Apollo Hospital and Wockhardt have excellent credentials and are among the finest in the world, known for various surgeries including knee and hip replacements, hip resurfacing, heart bypass operations, heart valve replacements, angioplasty, and gastric bypass. In addition to being highly recommended, India is also the cheapest of many countries. And for patients interested in mind-body medicines such as Ayurveda, the country is the ideal solution.
Thailand, while a little more expensive than India, but still infinitely cheaper than United States, is another popular destination for health tourism. Specifically, Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok. With advanced technology, American management and an impressive array of awards including "Thailand's Top 10 Most Innovative Companies Award 2009", "Thailand Quality Class", "Best Small Cap Company in 2008", and the "TAT Thailand Tourism Award of Excellence in Medical Tourism", Bumrungrad is actually so prestigious that two insurance companies are willing to offer policies for medical travel insurance when patients receive services at this hospital.
Singapore is probably next in line price-wise but is still a low-cost center for health tourism in relation to American pricing. With several accredited hospitals, National Heart Centre Singapore specializes in cardiovascular medicine and openly accepts international patients. Rooms in the hospital are quite modern with air conditioning, telephone, safe, fridge, and a bed for a guest if required. Patients may choose meals from a Chinese, Muslim, Indian or Western menu and have access to staff who speak their native languages. They also arrange airport pickup and hotel reservations.
Spain is quite popular as a health tourism destination for patients within the EU. But because many operations are being done free or at very little cost to anyone within the European Union, much controversy has recently arisen. Many feel that Spain's resources are being drained by "foreigners" and that they are no longer health tourists but rather, "health scroungers". In fact, the doctors' trade union has been most vocal, as the doctors feel that they are not adequately compensated.
Belgium is another country within the EU that boasts low-cost, quality medical care. Most particularly, Belgian facilities are know for cosmetic and cardiothoracic surgeries. According to several health tourism booking agents, Belgium hospitals have the lowest post-operative infection rates in Europe, and cleanliness in hospitals is stressed. Coupled with English speaking staff, advanced equipment and technologies, and no waiting lists, Belgium is ranked amongst the highest levels of care in Europe.
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