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Medical Tourism - A New Industry Combining Tourism and Treatment

2013/08/11 | 636 views | Permalink | Source

Medical Tourism – A New Industry Combining Tourism and Treatment

Thirty-year-old Jacob from Delaware, USA, had been plagued by chronic ear infections since childhood. Although he had approached various medical facilities, the prohibitive cost of their services and insurance had always prevented him from getting treatment for his condition.

Then he heard about Korea, a small country on a peninsula in Northeast Asia where high-quality medical treatment is available at relatively low cost. Last summer he underwent surgery at a university hospital in Korea and is now enjoying a life free from the chronic condition he had suffered from for so many years.


What Is Medical Tourism?

The relatively new phenomenon of medical tourism combines overseas travel for medical treatment with leisure and cultural activities. Popular destinations for medical tourism are Asian countries that have lower medical costs yet equally high quality medical standards and tourist facilities as other developed countries.

Most medical tourists remain in their destination for an extended period of time. People traveling for beauty and cosmetic surgery, physical examinations, or minor operations in particular tend to engage in various tourist activities, thus spending more during their stay. For these reasons, medical tourism is considered a high value-added sector of the 21st century tourism industry.

Medical Tourism in Korea

Since 2009, the Korean government has acknowledged the potential of medical tourism as a value-added industry and has included it among the nation's 17 new growth industries. Following that recognition, it has revised medical laws, introduced a medical tourism visa, and implemented government level cooperation to promote medical tourism.

Efforts such as those have invigorated Korea's medical tourism industry and it is seemed that it achieved a trade surplus since 2011 (Source: Bank of Korea Economic Statistics System).

There are two main reasons why medical tourists choose Korea as their destination.

As in the example of Jacob, there are patients from developed nations who find medical treatment in Korea more affordable than yet of equal quality to their own countries.

Then there are visitors from developing countries that have less advanced medical technology. Wealthy individuals from those countries visit Korea for the high quality of its medical treatment as well as its tourism.

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According to a survey on medical tourism in Korea, nearly half (48.4%) of overseas patients said that their number-one reason for choosing Korea was the high standard of its medical professionals.

While the standard of treatment in Korea is among the best in the world, its cost is remarkably reasonable at around 1/10 of the U.S.A., 1/5 of Japan, and 1/2 of Singapore. This, in conjunction with its scenic beauty and world-class resorts, makes Korea a highly attractive destination for medical tourism.

According to an evaluation of the overall competitiveness and stability of national healthcare systems in OECD member states, medical technology in Korea matches that of other developed nations in areas such as beauty and cosmetic surgery. Moreover, it leads the way in spinal surgery, liver transplants and skin grafts, as well as the six major types of cancers in Korea (stomach, liver, lung, colon, breast and uterine), thanks to locally developed new technologies to treat them.

So if you are considering any kind of medical procedure, why not visit Korea and combine low-cost, world-class medical treatment with an unforgettable vacation?

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