Medical tourism has become a multi-billion dollar industry and one of the growing sector in India. This sector was estimated to be worth ₹ 25,000 crores in 2016 and projected to grow to ₹ 50,000 crores by 2020. Medical tourism refers to people traveling to a country other than their own to obtain medical treatment. In the past this usually referred to those who traveled from less-developed countries to best hospitals in highly developed countries for quality treatment. However, in recent years the trend has changed, people are travelling from developed countries to developing countries for lower priced medical treatments. The main reason for this is low cost high quality medical facilities and English speaking medical professional and availability of all language speaking translators . With main medical tourists inflow from Bangladesh and Gulf nations.
The cost differential is huge: Open-heart surgery costs up to $70,000 in Britain and $150,000 in the US; in India’s best hospitals it could cost between $3,000 and $10,000. With many private players popping up in Healthcare industry in all the major cities across India, it is attracting tourists globally on a large scale. Chennai has become India’s health capital.
On the other hand, the pubic health care is very poorly maintained in the country forcing the poor and middle class to seek medical facilities at private hospitals. This has led them to borrow money or sell assets and pushing them below the poverty line.
Cuba has been a pioneer in medical tourism for almost four decades. Cubans receive free healthcare for life while tourists have to pay for it.The Cuban government has developed medical tourism to generate income which benefits its country’s citizens. The Cuban example shows that there are ways to use medical tourism to really benefit our people.