The future of medical tourism: the glass ceiling


The International Medical Travel Journal has a new article that questions the notions that ‘the sky is the limit’ in the medical tourism industry.  This article discusses the belief that many investors have that as long as there is a new shiny facility, medical tourists will flock..  In reality, the market for medical tourism is fairly narrow, particularly for American medical tourists – who are the ones most likely to open their wallets and pay cold hard cash for surgical procedures overseas.  (That’s because medical care in many other countries is less expensive for residents – so why travel and pay cash for something you can get at home for relatively little expense (even if it requires waiting.) Many of these Americans are uncomfortable or unwilling to travel to more exotic locations – as Dubai has found out first hand.

Of course, plastic surgery and other elective procedures are a little different.)  But most Europeans, Canadians etc.  aren’t going to have to fork over 100,000 for heart surgery (or be uninsured) so the pool is limited.

The other class of medical tourist – the wealthy residents of countries that may not have elite services is also a mixed bag,  Many of these patients are going to elect to go to ‘big name’ American facilities despite the cost – for a specific level of care.  They may seek out specialized procedures that are unavailable or even illegal in their home countries – but that market is smaller than most of us realize.

It’s a good article that brings a dose of reality to the concept of medical tourism as a ‘cash cow’ route to easy and limitless cash.  Medical tourism is not for everyone, as investors are finding out.

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