Although advancements in medicine are taking place at a rapid pace, having ready access to treatments isn’t always possible in your country of origin. For that reason, the need for medical tourism – moving around the world to take advantage of potentially lower-cost cutting-edge services and operations – has become increasingly prominent.
While medical tourism is well established, finding the right destination based on your specific needs can be difficult as different countries are at the top of different fields.
In order to guide you down the right path to the best places to visit or emigrate based on your requirements, we’ve put together a list of the world’s top spots when it comes to medical tourism.
A short trip across the Channel, Germany is an economically powerful nation that has cemented its place as one of the cornerstones of both the European Union and the Eurozone as well.
Broadly speaking, German medical tourism is specially focused around finding treatment for oncological conditions, i.e. cancers. Whether you’re looking to obtain a rapid and expert analysis of lumps or bumps or need support in fighting off one of the world’s most life threatening conditions, Germany’s cancer clinics are among the best.
If the treatment you need would require you to stay in Germany for some time, an important point to note is that the nation is typically cheaper to live in than the UK in terms of housing, travel, utilities and food. The healthcare system utilises integrated care and is firmly focused on convenience towards the patient and clear conversation between all doctors involved.
Heading to the eastern edge of the European Union, Hungary is another popular destination for those seeking lower cost highly valued treatments. While medical options within the country are usually focused on the areas of dentistry and reconstructive surgery, the nation is also a good choice for other more generalised courses of treatment.
Living in Hungary is a fair bit cheaper than living in the UK, with the historical weakness of the Hungarian Forint meaning that exchanging Pounds for Forints can help your funds go further.
The Hungarian capital of Budapest features countless thermal spas and hotels, as well as health spas for those looking to enjoy a comfortable recovery after a complicated procedure.
Heading into Asia, we reach the bulk of the world’s top destinations for medical tourism, starting with one of the world’s most populous countries, India.
While there are high levels of disparity between the wealthy and less-so, as well as developed and rural areas, it cannot be denied that India is one of the best places in the world for medical tourism.
In additionally to offering phenomenally affordable healthcare and specialising in a diverse range of areas such as cardiovascular treatments, orthopaedic procedures and cancer diagnosis, Indian medical care is top of the line for those that can afford it and as an added bonus, English-speakers are at less of a disadvantage than in some of the Asian entries on the list.
General living costs in India are considerably lower than in the UK, so those looking to stick around after treatment or a procedure will find that the Pound has considerable purchasing power when being converted into Indian Rupees.
Another world-renowned region for medical tourism in Asia is Thailand, which similarly offers expert care and high quality procedures for a fraction of the price or waiting times that are usually encountered in more developed nations.
Bangkok is typically regarded as the hub of the country when it comes to the best clinics and treatment facilities, and while some of the more inessential cosmetic procedures are the most popular, the country is also famed for offering extremely effective rehabilitation facilities.
Long-term living costs in Thailand are low relative to the UK (around 40% cheaper), but due to the bustling and sometimes chaotic nature of everyday business in Bangkok, it may be better to settle for someplace quieter in a rural part of the country, where the notorious congestion in the capital can be largely avoided.
Since ridding itself of over a hundred years of British Imperial rule, Malaysia has flourished, attracting regular tourists and those seeking treatment for a range of ailments from across the globe.
Skin conditions are a speciality among many Malaysian clinics and facilities, with the treatment of burns seeing particular success. English is widely spoken among doctors and healthcare professionals, and other areas of expertise in the country’s healthcare sector include fertility treatments, such as IVF.
Costs in Malaysia are around 40% lower than in the UK and are so low that many medical tourists from the extremely expensive and medically-advanced island of Singapore often cross the border to remedy their ills with their more affordable neighbours.
Located on the southern tip of the Malaysian Peninsula, the island nation of Singapore is a highly developed one, both medically and economically. Its national drive for business brilliance means that services and facilities, including medical ones, are of extremely high quality. Illustrating this point, for such a small country, there are a large number of JCI-accredited medical facilities within its borders.
Singaporean hospitals and clinics excel in many fields, with procedures such as cancer diagnosis and organ transplantation being regarded as the specialties.
This abundance of high-quality living standards and hospitals comes at a cost, however, as the average cost of living in Singapore is an exception to the rule for the Asian entries on the list. While it is generally more expensive to live in the medically-excellent Singapore than the UK, the additional outlay does mean that you’ll have access to some of the world’s finest medical treatment and healthcare.
The last entry on this list is also one of the most confusing, as while the island ‘nation’ of Taiwan, off the southeast coast of China, is renowned across the world as a centre for diverse and low-cost medical procedures with proven effectiveness, it also exists in a nebulous political area.
When the current People’s Republic of China (PROC) was founded in 1949, it pushed out the remnants of the Republic of China, which kept nominal control of the island of Taiwan. In international events such as the Olympics, Taiwan is known as ‘Chinese Taipei’, but still exists as a separate entity and country to the much larger PROC.
Political entanglement aside, Taiwan is an excellent choice for a medical tourist making a prolonged visit or looking to settle down, as in addition to living costs being lesser on average than the UK, Taiwan is stuffed full of JCI-accredited hospitals and offers specialisations in weight loss and cosmetic surgery as well as cancer treatments.
Closing on an advisory note, should you end up choosing a facility or institution that does not use English as its primary language, it is highly recommended to either learn the native language or employ the services of a translator before embarking on a treatment to ensure that everyone involved is reading from the same page. While misunderstanding part of a language may leave you lost or embarrassed when travelling, when it comes to the specifics of medical procedures, clarity is essential to ensure a positive outcome.
It’s also crucial to be confident in the reputation and capabilities of the medical facility treating you and the medical professionals conducting any procedures. Medical tourism is a good way to cut costs, but you also want to feel confident that you’re receiving the best treatment possible.
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