The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

Medical tourism continues to boom in Asia, but do ensure a professional diagnosis before agreeing to a procedure

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jan• 14•13

Countries such as Thailand, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines are posting big numbers in terms of medical tourism, according to a story written by Peerapan Tungsuwan in the January 14, 2013 issue of the Bangkok Post. Worldwide, medical tourism accounts for an estimated $100 billion in revenue annually. While Asia’s share seems relatively low, at $8.5 billion, you’d never know it based on the hospitals, clinics, and care centers that have sprung up in major cities in the Asean region. Malaysia and Singapore in particular are experiencing significant growth in this sector annually, at 29% and 12%, respectively. 

What’s particularly interesting are the statistics relating to dollars spent per procedure in the U.S. vs. Asia, as provided by the US Medical Tourism Association. A heart bypass procedure costing $144,000 in the U.S. costs $5,200 in India, and $15,121 in Thailand. Spinal fusion, costing $100,000 in the U.S., costs $6,150 in Vietnam, $6,500 in India, and $9,091in Thailand. Overall, India seems the least expensive alternative to the U.S. in terms of Asian medicine, but Thailand, although more expensive than India, remains a choice for many due to the ease of getting around the country, as well as Thailand’s plethora of resorts. 

As a WoWasis cautionary note, a professional diagnosis of any medical issue is critical. Rumors are already circulating that one well-known hospital in Bangkok appears to be “procedure crazy,” and if true, it certainly wouldn’t be the only one. Healthcare in the U.S. is expensive, no doubt about it. But be sure you have a diagnosis you can rely on before jetting off to Asia.

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