Newswise — America’s rising healthcare costs, in tandem with 82 million un- or underinsured medical consumers, have given rise to a startling trend of medical refugees. In 2020, more than two million American patients will travel to another country in search of more affordable medical treatment, up nearly tenfold from around 250,000 medical travelers just a decade ago.

Patients Beyond Borders has teamed up with Medical Departures (with nearly 100,000 medical tourism bookings to date) revealing that more than 85% of all medical travel is to a handful of safe, popular metropolitan centers around the globe. This is good news for people who think medical travel is only to far-flung, little-known destinations.

Getting in and out of these large metro destinations is usually easy and inexpensive: ultra-modern airports and rail, with wide-ranging options for lodging (from luxury to budget), dining and sightseeing. Turns out these are some of the most fascinating cities on the planet. Why not return from a procedure having recuperated or vacationed in a vibrant urban setting?

#10 Barcelona (Spain)Ranked the world’s 7th best healthcare nation by the World Health Organization, Spain's medical schools and facilities are among the finest in Europe. Barcelona is home to more than a dozen internationally-accredited medical centers and clinics, serving English-speaking patients from the US, Canada, UK and Australia. Specialty patients take advantage of Barcelona’s ultra-modern facilities and skilled practitioner, while vacationers goose their budget with an afternoon of savings on light medical or dental work.

Specialties: Ophthalmology, Dentistry, Cosmetic Surgery, Orthopedics, Fertility,IVF, Pediatrics

Savings: 40-75%

#9 Istanbul (Turkey)For travelers seeking remedies to hair loss, Turkey is best-known for affordable hair transplantation. With more than 600 registered clinics in Istanbul alone, patients from the immediate region and beyond undergo the latest treatments and technologies toward regaining a full head of hair. One of Europe’s largest vision centers (Dunyagoz) serves patients worldwide for evaluations, eyeglass prescriptions, cataracts, glaucoma and more.Specialties: Vision, Dentistry, Hair Transplant Savings: 50-70%

#8 Bali (Indonesia) As one of Asia’s most popular destinations for chill vacation travel, it’s no wonder Bali’s leading medical centers look more like health spas than specialty hospitals. Savvy holiday-makers take an afternoon for a teeth whitening, MRI or Botox treatment before heading into the night.

Specialties: Dentistry, Health check-ups, Screenings

Savings: 50-85%

#7 Seoul (South Korea): Seoul is the heart of the world’s highest per-capita rate of cosmetic treatment. The posh Gangnam District alone boasts some 500 cosmetic and aesthetic centers, offering surgical procedures of all descriptions. South Korea also leads in non-invasive strategies--from Botox to dermal fillers to laser hair removal to dental veneers--increasingly popular for people who want to improve their looks without going under the knife.

Specialties: Cosmetic surgery, Aesthetic treatments

Savings: 30-50%

#6 Mumbai (India): One of India’s most progressive urban centers, Mumbai offers exceptional medical care at eye-popping discounts. With nearly one in seven US surgeons of Indian descent, Americans are catching on that a trip to one of Mumbai’s finest can put real money in the pocket without compromising quality of care. Some of the world’s top orthopedic and heart specialists practice in Mumbai.

Specialties: Orthopedics, Cardiology

Savings: 55-90%

#5 Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia): While most Asia-bound health travel is to India or Thailand, Malaysia is now firmly on the medical travel charts. In 2019, more than one million medical travelers will seek treatment in Malaysia, from cosmetic and dental care to complex orthopedic, spine and cardiovascular procedures. Malaysia is one of the world’s leading medical value destinations, where patients can realize up to 80% savings on a wide range of procedures and treatments in first-class hospitals and clinics. Big on preventive care, health check-ups and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are popular among patients seeking alternative treatments for common as well as complex conditions.

Specialties: Orthopedics, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Savings: 45-80%

#4 Escazú (Costa Rica): This vibrant, ultra-Americanized suburb of San Jose attracts dental and medical tourists from all over the world--some 65,000 every year. Clinics are known for complex restorative and cosmetic dentistry (such as implants), saving patients tens of thousands over fees at shelled out at home. Two internationally accredited full-service medical centers perform weight loss procedures, along with orthopedics and heart work.

Specialties: Dentistry, cosmetic surgery, bariatrics

Savings: 40-60%

Escazu, Costa Rica

#3 Cancun (Mexico): This resort town welcomes tens of thousands of “incidental” medical travelers annually: people taking in a light, money-saving medical or dental treatment as part of their vacation. Cosmetic surgeries and non-invasive aesthetic treatments are big here as well. While there, you can pick up quality pharmaceuticals for any valid prescription written in the United States, at deep discounts.

Specialties: Dentistry, cosmetic surgery, weight loss surgery, pharma travel

Savings: 40-70%

#2 Budapest (Hungary): No stranger to medical tourism, Hungary’s capital and its thermal waters have been welcoming international travelers since ancient Grecian times. Budapest and its sister cities to the north (Mosonmagyaróvár and Györ) boast the highest per-capita dental clinics in the world. Europeans (and increasingly North Americans) flock there in search of low-cost care and a hydrothermal soak.

Specialties: Dentistry

Savings: 40-60%

#1 Bangkok (Thailand): No longer just for sex change surgeries, Bangkok has become the world’s epicenter of medical tourism, welcoming more than two million cross-border patients every year. What’s not to like about recovering from a medical procedure in a world-class Thai resort hotel or spa--at unbeatable prices. Bangkok’s venerated, internationally accredited Bumrungrad International Hospital (featured on 60 Minutes and CNN’s Inside Man), welcomes tens of thousands of North American and European patients every year.

Specialties: Cosmetic surgery, restorative dentistry

Savings: 50-75%


About Patients Beyond Borders

Patients Beyond Borders, founded in 2005 and based in Chapel Hill, NC, publishes books, eBooks, and online information on medical, health, and wellness travel. Its flagship international title, Patients Beyond Borders, just released in a completely revised Patients Beyond Borders Fourth Edition, is the leading consumer reference guide for medical tourism, filled with authoritative, accessible advice. Specialized editions have been published for Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, and Turkey. Patients Beyond Borders is available in softcover print and digital format through retailers and online booksellers everywhere.

Tel: +1 919 617.7802 (GMT-5)

Email: [email protected]


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