Economist Sees Growth in Medical Travel
Low costs and growing medical expertise in developing countries are the two main drivers behind global travel trends in healthcare services, according to a new report from Economist magazine’s Economist Intelligence Unit in a new study, “Travelling for Health.”
The report notes that medical tourism is dominated less and less by wealthy people from countries with poor healthcare services traveling to North America or Europe for medical treatments.
“Now, however, many developing countries are building up world class healthcare facilities at just the time when healthcare cost pressures in the developed world are rising rapidly,” the report states. “This is already encouraging a shift in the flow of traffic, as developed-world patients start to head for the developing world.”
The gap in costs between developing markets and the U.S. and Europe will become more pronounced, the Economist predicts.
Also driving growth: healthcare systems will come under increasing strain providing services to retirement-age Baby Boomers. At the same time, cuts in healthcare services and longer patient waiting lists in countries with government-provided care will drive more people to look overseas for faster, cheaper treatment, according to the magazine.
A Service Agents Can Offer Corporate Clients
Recent developments increasingly point to medical travel as an attractive service that travel agents can offer to their corporate clients looking to reduce the costs of employee healthcare.
One such development is the rising costs of employer-provided healthcare.
The average cost of providing healthcare benefits will surpass the $10,000 mark per employee for the first time next year, according to Aon Hewitt, the human resource consulting and outsourcing business of Aon Corporation.
According to Aon Hewitt's analysis, the 2012 average health care premium rate increase will be 7%, slightly lower than the 7.5 percent mark in 2011. However, the average total health care premium per employee for large companies is projected to be $10,475 in 2012, up from $9,792 in 2011 and $9,111 in 2010.
Barbados Sees Growth in Fertility Patients
The Barbados Fertility Centre reports an increase of U.S. patients, a trend that dovetails with a recent survey conducted by Ipsos Reid that found that 74% of American women would travel abroad for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
"We have seen an increase in the number of patients from the U.S. and are very encouraged by the findings from the survey especially as our success rates are higher and our treatment costs significantly lower," said Dr. Juliet Skinner, head clinician at the center.
According to Dr. Skinner, the U.S. national average success rate for IVF is only 42%, while Barbados Fertility Centre is reporting success rates of 72% using blastocyst where they leave the embryos to culture for five days as opposed to the usual two days at most U.S. clinics.
The Barbados government has staked out fertility as an area of specialization for the growth of its medical travel industry.