Medical tourism booms in Asia

March 16, 2011

A health-services research firm says high healthcare costs have spawned a boom in Americans traveling to Asia to undergo - among other procedures - aesthetic surgery, the online Los Angeles Times reports.

Washington - A health-services research firm says high healthcare costs have spawned a boom in Americans traveling to Asia to undergo - among other procedures - aesthetic surgery, the online Los Angeles Times reports.

The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, based in Washington, says cost-conscious Americans are taking trips to leading medical tourism destinations in Thailand, South Korea, Singapore and India. Physicians there - many of them trained in the United States - offer cosmetic surgery as well as fertility treatments and joint replacements, charging as much as 70 percent less than what such procedures would cost at home.

According to the Times, Deloitte Center Executive Director Paul Keckley estimates that in 2009, Thailand alone attracted 140,000 medical tourists. Americans, Mr. Keckley told the Times, go for “short-stay surgical procedures where people don’t perceive much risk,” such as breast augmentation, gum surgery and nose jobs.

The Times reports that Mr. Keckley considers medical tourism destinations to be “buyer beware” markets. He said the risk is not so much in undergoing the procedures, but in the potential for complications after travelers have returned home.