Key drivers of the medical tourism industry include rising healthcare costs (particularly for elective and non-essential procedures), infrastructure improvements in the travel and tourism industry, decreasing costs of travel, advancements in technology, and the rise of international accreditation agencies.
Listed below are the key macroeconomic trends impacting the medical tourism theme, as identified by GlobalData.
Globalisation and growth of tourism
As institutes and companies become more connected worldwide with the help of advancements in technology, tourism and travel are becoming increasingly more accessible. The increase in travel and tourism have led to fierce competition in the industry, from airlines to accommodation and travel costs, driving prices down and increasing affordability.
Globalisation and tourism have enabled emerging markets, which are typically vacation destinations, to grow their economies and build solid infrastructures that can support people visiting the country. In turn, the medical tourism sector in these countries can build on the existing infrastructure. Increased travel has also resulted in changed perceptions and better knowledge of foreign countries, encouraging patients to travel abroad.
Rising healthcare costs
One of the largest drivers of patients seeking medical care abroad is rising healthcare costs. In the US, health spending has increased over 31-fold in the last 40 years, from $355 per person in 1970 to $11,172 per person in 2018. In the same year, almost 27.5 million people did not have health insurance. The US is a prime example of patients seeking lower treatment costs without health insurance or adequate coverage, particularly just south of the border in Central America.
Healthcare costs are rising globally, but emerging markets are able to offer medical procedures at a fraction of the price. This drives patients in developed neighbouring countries to travel abroad to obtain medical procedures, as the total cost of the medical trip would still cost less than the patients receiving the procedure in their home country. Medical tourism will continue to grow as healthcare costs continue to rise.
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This is an edited extract from the Medical Tourism – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.