The birth of medical travel dates back to 400 BC when people from different civilizations traveled far and wide in search of medical miracles to heal them of their ailments. Specifically, the historical records mention the Romans who sought out “spring” or “bath” waters, believing that the waters possessed healing properties.
Since then, times have changed, and now, you see people traveling to developed countries such as Mexico, Thailand, India, among others for medical treatments. The shift in the trend has been termed medical tourism, and the trend for medical travel seems to be growing stronger with each passing year- just look at its worldwide revenue: medical tourism generated a worldwide revenue of $60 billion in 2006 and was projected to supersede $100 billion in 2012.
In addition, medical tourism in relation to globalization has worked well for developed countries that have taken advantage of the growing medical tourism industry.
Medical Tourism—A Renewed Hope for Developing Countries
The emergence of globalization has forced countries to refocus on the present state of their economy and asses areas, which will attract people from other countries. In doing so, countries that saw potential in their medical practices began to advertise themselves as a destination for cost-effective and quality health care.
Globalization of the medical tourism market was in full swing by then with people all over the world visiting foreign medical facilities for a variety of treatments. According to the Globalization of Health Care: A Study of Medical Tourism, globalization of medical care promoted the following changes:
– It enabled people to visit other countries for a medical treatment that was not available in their own country.
– It established medical tourism facilitators.
– Insurance companies created evolved health care plans for people going to another country for treatment.
– It led to the creation of new industries in medical tourism countries.
The rush of traffic of Westerners coming to developing countries established them as the most sought after medical tourism destination. Their popularity with the masses was due to the current healthcare systems placed in their own countries.
The High Price for Health Care in Western Countries
The United States has been crowned as having one of the most expensive healthcare systems in the world. 50 million people are without medical insurance and 130 million do not have dental insurance. The Common Wealth Fund stated in their report that an estimated 25 million people do not have sufficient medical insurance with 50% facing a difficult time repaying their medical bills.
Now more than ever, Americans are crossing the border into Mexico for medical treatments such as cardiac surgery, dental work, gastric bypass, rhinoplasty, spinal fusion, knee and hip replacement, and cosmetic surgery.
Even with the influx of medical travelers coming to developed countries for medical treatments, the developed countries have continued to sustain their low prices for medical care and improved the quality of medical care they provide.
Globalization of health care will continue to grow and bring people together.