Now, when the medical tourism market is recovering and developing even faster than before, thousands of international patients travel abroad to receive medical care and their number in 2021 is only increasing. We understand that you may have fears and doubts about flights, medical treatment and staying in another country. But don't be afraid, make your health a priority.
The Bookimed experts have already helped hundreds of patients to get the necessary medical service during a pandemic and assure that all these concerns do not have effect in some countries because quarantine restrictions there are very pleasing or completely absent at all. You can easily fly there and just get the treatment you need.
Keep reading and in just 10 minutes you will find out the top four open countries for medical tourists, their benefits and local conditions for international patients.
In this article:
- How has the list of top places for health related tourism changed since the lockdown?
- Costa Rica
The COVID pandemic has caused many countries to close their borders and restrict the admission of foreign visitors, even for medical assistance. So people look for options where they can get treatment cheaper than in their native countries, which has led to an even more significant increase in the number of medical tourists than in previous years. In 2021, the medical tourism market grew by 10%. The sector is also expected to continue to grow and double by 2040.
Previously, the top medical tourism places were Germany, Israel, Spain, or the United States, but now the scenario has changed. To prevent the importation of new dangerous mutated strains of coronavirus infection into these countries, the local governments issued regulations to restrict entry into the country from high-risk areas.
The COVID restrictions in these areas especially affected patients with delayed diseases, or, in other words, those who do not require urgent intervention (orthopedic diseases, infertility treatment) or seekers for aesthetic services (dentistry, plastic surgery). That’s why Western Europe and the United States are at the tail end of the medical tourism market.
In addition, although these countries offer high-quality services, the cost is still high. Due to the unstable economic situation in many countries and government restrictions, people started to choose other more affordable places for treatment. That’s why Turkey, Ukraine, Mexico, and Costa Rica have become new favorites of medical tourists in 2021.
Mexico and Costa Rica have been recognized as top destinations for dental care and plastic surgery, while Ukraine is attracting patients for more complex procedures, for example, fertility treatments. Turkey is chosen both for cosmetic procedures and treating severe diseases (cancer, orthopedic, neuro, and heart diseases). Let's take a look at the health sector situation in each of these countries.
Why did new players start gaining popularity with international patients?
Turkey, Ukraine, Costa Rica, and Mexico have become leaders in the field of health tourism for several motives:
- they are open and accept foreign patients
- treatment in these countries is up to 80% cheaper than in Europe or the USA
- to attract medical tourists, they constantly improve the service
- it is an opportunity to visit a new country and get to know its culture
- you can combine treatment with rest and spend time not only helpful but also pleasant.
These are the main factors why millions of patients choose these countries for treatment. But each of them has its own characteristics, advantages, and rules of entry for global patients.
The term “accessibility” refers to the possibility of Turkey accepting international patients, the presence or absence of quarantine restrictions, and the conditions for the treatment of medical tourists.
Turkey is open with limits (vaccinated travelers can visit the country without any restrictions)
Turkish authorities are currently seeking to rebuild the regional tourism and health tourism economy. That’s why they introduce some of the softest entry requirements for COVID-19 in the world and welcome travelers from all countries.
Before the trip, international patients should have a negative 72-hour PCR test result, proof of recent recovery, or proof of complete vaccination. Visitors from Great Britain, Iran, Egypt, and Singapore must have a negative 72-hour PCR test, even if they are fully vaccinated. All arriving voyagers must have travel insurance covering COVID-19.
Travelers are not required to undergo quarantine upon arrival in Turkey unless they arrive from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, South Africa, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. If a visitor shows symptoms and tests positive for COVID-19, they will be quarantined at their own expense.
The local medical staff is highly qualified. Turkish doctors undergo compulsory training and practice in well-known clinics of the European Union and the United States. As a result, they gain the experience and necessary knowledge to help patients.
- Affordable treatment prices. The cost of medical care in Turkey attracts many tourists from different parts of the world. The index of savings can reach 70% compared with Europe or the USA.
- Worldwide recognition. Turkey is especially popular with patients from the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Britain, Germany, and other Western European countries. Americans are also increasingly choosing Turkey because the price of some medical services is even lower than in Mexico.
- First-rate quality of medical services. The world-class Turkish clinics receive international accreditation — the JCI certificate that guarantees patients that they will receive high-quality medical services. 32 JCI-accredited medical facilities are located in Turkey.
- Culture, geographic location, and a lot of attractions. Treatment in this country is an excellent opportunity to combine medical procedures with vacation. International patients often visit sights, lead an active lifestyle, and improve their health in spa centers.
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In this country, patients are provided with a wide range of medical services. Doctors treat various diseases. However, Turkey is a No.1 destination among international patients because of first-rate:
- cardiology and heart surgery
- plastic surgery
- hair transplantation
- cancer treatment
- dental services
The Joint Commission International (an authoritative health tourism organization) has accredited over 30 Turkish clinics and medical centers — this index is one of the largest in the world. These local hospitals have the right to serve foreign patients and are recognized as the best in the country. Specialists here have vast experience, use innovative medical technologies, undergo training in Western countries, and implement modern approaches.
The term “accessibility” means the possibility of Mexico to accept international patients, the presence or absence of quarantine restrictions, and the conditions for the treatment of medical tourists.
Mexico is open for medical tourists without restrictions
Mexico is now experiencing one of the most extensive medical tourist flows in the world. All major tourist sites, cities, and hotels are actively campaigning for visitors. Healthcare facilities attract patients with hot offers and affordable packages.
No tests or quarantines are required. The country is open to all nations. However, the visitors are advised to have medical insurance covering COVID-19 while in Mexico. For more information about the coronavirus in Mexico, visit the official website of the local Ministry of Health.
On average, 2 mln multinational patients choose Mexico for treatments, as reported by the Patients Beyond Borders edition. Up to 90% of patients are from the United States and Canada. And now, in the era of the pandemic, Mexico has become an even more popular destination not only with Americans and Canadians but also Europeans due to the lack of coronavirus restrictions and some other reasons:
- High-standard medical services. According to the World Health Organization, Mexican medical centers are comparable in service and equipment to US clinics. The local specialists apply innovative equipment and use modern therapeutic approaches.
- Low pricing policy. The average cost of medical services in Mexico is 50-70% less than in the United States or Canada. Low prices for services, as well as low expenses for staying and traveling attract Canadians and Americans. Their native countries are close to Mexico, so patients can even get there by car in just a few hours.
- Progressive dentistry. The affordability along with excellent quality of dental care in Mexico have made the country a global dental hub for international patients. Mexico tops the list of the best countries for dental work in the world.
- Advanced plastic surgery. Mexico is one of the 10 most popular destinations for plastic and cosmetic procedures worldwide. The local surgeons undergo training in the USA, so are aware of the most innovative techniques. Mexican plastic surgeons are recognized among the leading ones in the world.
- Short waiting time. If you choose Mexico, you will not have to postpone your treatment; your healthcare trip may be organized in one day, unlike in the United Kingdom, where you will have to wait in a lengthy line to get any health procedure.
- The mild climate and unique environment. The country is popular with global visitors due to its fantastic moderate weather, beautiful beaches, and exotic nature. So after the therapy, you can have a great rest that boosts rehabilitation and recovery period.
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Mexico is a popular destination for dental procedures and plastic surgery. The country is the world leader in dental tourism and takes second place in the global health tourism segment. In addition, Mexican hospitals have recently become famous for weight-loss surgeries.
Popular treatments among medical tourists in Mexico:
- сosmetic and plastic surgery
- bariatric surgery
- ophthalmic operations
- cardiovascular surgery.
In recent years, Mexico has become a popular destination for transnational citizens seeking health care. Most often, patients choose Mexico for dental work or plastic surgery. Among the best Mexican clinics are:
The term “accessibility” refers to the possibility of Costa Rica to accept international patients, the presence or absence of quarantine restrictions, and the conditions for the treatment of medical tourists.
Costa Rica is open for transborder patients without restrictions
The country is entirely open to medical travelers. All tourists vaccinated against COVID-19 with Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, or Johnson & Johnson can enter the country without any travel regulations. Vaccinated travelers must attach their vaccination certificate to the Health Pass.
Tourists who have not been vaccinated or vaccinated with serum other than that approved by the Costa Rican authorities must purchase travel insurance that covers accommodation in the case of quarantine and medical costs for COVID-19 disease treatment.
Over the past ten years, Costa Rica has transformed from an ecotourism place to a country of interest to foreign patients, primarily from the United States and Canada. The metamorphosis of this green country into a significant player in the medical tourism market was forced by:
- Excellent quality of healthcare system. According to the WHO rating for quality, the medical system in Costa Rica is one of the best in Latin America and is ranked higher than the healthcare in the United States and New Zealand.
- Reasonable prices. The cost of healthcare in Costa Rica is one-third to a quarter of similar services in the United States or Canada. International patients are interested in receiving quality medical care significantly lower than in their own country.
- Responsibility. The local medical professionals carry responsibility for their practices and are accountable to the law, which provides patients with protection and insurance coverage for medical malpractice.
- Great tourism opportunities. Costa Rica is a popular ecotourism destination, so visitors are guaranteed stunning views, beautiful sites, and a mild climate. These factors allow medical tourists to enjoy a fantastic holiday during the recovery period.
Costa Rica was initially known for its excellent dental care, but over time, medical tourism programs have offered numerous medical procedures, including the following:
- cosmetic surgery
- weight loss surgery
- orthopedic operations
- infertility treatment
- addiction therapy.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected the medical tourism market — the leading players have completely changed, new ones have appeared. The flow of health seekers is growing immensely, but the priorities of patients have changed. And the main factor that influenced their choice was the accessibility of treatment and soft coronavirus restrictions. If earlier foreign patients preferred treatment in Germany, the USA, or Israel, so now they boldly chose Mexico, Turkey, and Ukraine. The new leaders offer high-quality service at prices much lower than in Europe or the United States and the opportunity to combine treatment with vacation — it cannot but attract.
Is medical tourism a good idea?
For at least 16 million medical travelers in the world, this is a perfect idea because health trips have some advantages:
- you can find high-quality services much cheaper
- unique services that are not available everywhere
- innovative equipment and top doctors
- the opportunity to combine treatment and holidays.
What are the best countries for medical tourism in times of coronavirus?
The Bookimed team has analyzed the medical tourism market in 2021 and identified the most apparent winners — Turkey, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Ukraine. These countries have very soft COVID restrictions. In some, there are no restrictions at all. That is why all medical procedures are freely available here. In addition, the countries are well-known for lower treatment prices compared to the US or Europe and are renowned for their unbeatable resorts.
Which countries have the best doctors?
It all depends on the area in which the doctor practices. In general surgery, neurology, ENT, or cardiology, the best doctors practice in Germany, the United States, Israel, Sweden, and the Netherlands. The best dentists are Mexican specialists. But in plastic surgery, top surgeons practice in South Korea, Thailand, Mexico, and Turkey.
What are the types of medical tourism?
Health tourism is an industry that combines healthcare and tourist areas. There are a lot of medical tourism categories. The most common are:
- plastic surgery
- dental care
- fertility treatment
- organ and tissue transplantation
- cancer treatment
- addictions therapy.
Which countries are good for surgery?
According to statistics from Bookimed, patient reviews, research of medical tourism in over 30 countries, and data gathered from trustworthy sources listed above, the best places for surgery are:
- Costa Rica.
The list of the best countries for medical tourism has changed a lot since the beginning of the pandemic. Perhaps further, as a result of active vaccination around the world, this list will change. And the countries that previously led the arena will return to the top list. Find out about these countries in our material Top 10 best destinations for therapeutics.
Which countries are good for plastic surgery?
Depending on the operation type and the location, people can save 40 to 80% on plastic surgery by visiting overseas countries. If earlier the leaders in this segment were Brazil, Japan, and Italy, so now the precedence in cosmetic surgery is taken by Mexico, Ukraine, Turkey, and Costa Rica.
Which countries are good for dentistry?
As reported by Bookied, a global medical tourism marketplace, Mexico, Ukraine, Turkey, and Costa Rica are among multinational patients' top dental travel destinations. They are popular with international patients due to high-quality dental care, excellent materials, and very reasonable prices. You can save up to 75% preferring to get tooth work in Ukraine than in Western Europe, Canada, or the United States.