By Thierry Malleret, economist
The constant and relentless increase in medical costs means that medical tourism is bound to rise substantially in the coming years. At the moment, two of the main beneficiaries of this trend are Central and Eastern Europe, where it’s growing by 12-15 percent per year from an already high base.
As an example, last year, almost 500,000 foreign patients came to Poland for treatment. The conjunction of more complicated treatments (so far, limited to dentistry and cosmetic surgery) and a EU directive that enables patients to receive medical treatment in any member state will strengthen the trend of Central and Eastern Europe becoming a hub for medical tourism.
We have written before about the peaceful Chinese invasion of outbound tourists. It shouldn’t surprise us that the same is happening for medical tourism… but the pace of increase is extraordinary. Last year, half a million Chinese travelled overseas for medical-related services, which corresponds to a 400 percent increase year-on-year. Hard to beat! Currently, Thailand is the main beneficiary of this trend, followed by Indonesia.