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Article: The Patient Abroad

Published in Medical Marketing & Media March 2015
Approximately 11 million people were medical tourists in 2013, generating a market worth over $50 billion. While obtaining accurate data is challenging, estimates suggest the global medical tourism market is expanding by 25% each year.

Having grown up in the UK, where high-quality healthcare is available to all through the National Health Service, I hadn't given the concept of medical tourism a great deal of thought before I moved to Asia. It would simply not have occurred to me to seek healthcare overseas for any other reason than if I happened to fall ill while traveling. 

I first became aware of the concept when reading rumors that Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe was being treated in one of Singapore's exclusive private hospitals – which happened to be just down the road from my apartment at the time. This led to much discussion among my peers about how much it would cost to be a medical tourist in Singapore. "High end" patients can expect to accrue bills of thousands of dollars. The most expensive "hospitel" (hospital hotel) penthouse suite (not room) in Singapore costs over $8,000 per night – and it does not include the additional costs of medical treatment. This particular establishment anticipates that at least half of its "guests" (not patients) will come from overseas.

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2nd April 2015

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