Medical tourism is the new buzzword industry in many developed countries. With healthcare costs spiraling through the roof in developed countries like the US and UK, people afflicted are looking towards alternate destinations to get their treatments taken care of at lower costs with an added pleasure of the opportunity to see the other lands. Countries in the mystic east, for example, India, Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia are making the most of it due to their advanced medical facilities they offer as well as their being preferred destinations for tourism. This industry has spread to South Africa, South America (Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil) as well as east European countries like Hungary. The industry is growing by the day is estimated to grow by 250% by 2012 form a mere $40 billion in 2004.

Medical tourism is also slated to bring in ancillary benefits to the destination countries by pumping up their economy and will also gel well with foreign investors who already have a stake in these countries. This article presents five top medical tourism destinations which present the most attractive opportunities. We have selected these based on the quality and cost of medical care offered and their offering to FDI (foreign direct investment). These countries are largely English speaking and thus there should be no hiccups in getting world class treatment there.

Panama

Situated just south of the United States, Panama is in close proximity and offers very affordable and high quality health care. As per present comparisons, a surgery undertaken in Panama costs 40-70% lesser than anywhere in the US according to the NCPA (National Center for Policy Analysis) repot published last November. The cost of surgery undertaken by Panama health care is relatively higher than the South East Asian countries but that is made up by the savings on the airfare, due to its proximity with the US. Moreover, Panama is also highly “Americanized” and thus is a favorite destination of many tourists – general and medical. best attraction Sentosa singapore¬†

Panama’s official currency is the US Dollar and most health care specialists are US trained. This makes sure that the logistics of traveling are lesser and medical tourists are not in for rude culture shock when they visit Panama.

Panama’s economy is heavily dependent on the services industry and thus medical tourism would have a positive impact on the same. With a surplus of more than 1.5 million (as per CIA World Factbook) skilled labor force, Panama will be a force to reckon with in the services industry.

Panama, compared to other South American countries has a US dependent economy and is trying to foster its trade ties with the US. It also has free trade agreement with the US (signed in December 2006) and does not participate in the CAFTA (Central America Free Trade Agreement). Panama also welcomes foreign investment with open arms especially in tourism, service related industries and Panama real estate.

Brazil

Brazil is one of the most preferred destinations for plastic and cosmetic surgeries. Brazil’s foray into medical tourism began with Ivo Pitanguy, a plastic surgeon of world-renown who started a clinic outside Rio-de-Janeiro about four decades ago. Brazil today is considered the “mecca” of plastic and cosmetic surgery and is the 2nd largest market for these surgeries after the US. This is due to the impeccable quality of service and affordable costs it offers compared to other medical tourism destinations