The rise of medical tourism in Bangkok
While most travellers aim to stay out of the hospital while on vacation, a growing number of medical tourists – people who combine treatment with travel -- are crossing international borders for the sole purpose of attaining medical services, which can range from a hip replacement to a tummy tuck.
* Related video: Going local -- Bangkok, Thailand
Widespread air travel, mounting healthcare costs in developed countries, long waiting lists and an ageing world population have all contributed to a global explosion of medical tourism in the past decade -- and Asia is leagues ahead in terms of world market share.
More than 89% of medical tourists ...view middle of the document...
Suvarnabhumi Airport is serviced by airlines from around the world, reasonably-priced hotel rooms abound, there is reliable public transportation and 30-day visas for many nationalities are easy to get upon arrival, all of which help to make a stay -- in a hotel or hospital -- easy. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), which began promoting medical tourism in 2004, has a detailed medical tourism website that highlights many of the most popular treatments available, including dental work, dermatology and cosmetic surgery, as well as listing reputed hospitals, making it easy for potential visitors to decide on a procedure. Forward thinking in many of its approaches, TAT has also recently partnered with state-owned Krungthai Bank, the national bank of Thailand, to offer tourists a debit card called the Miracle Thailand Card, which offers some medical and life insurance coverage in case of an accident.
Western accreditation is also a vital component for confidence in undergoing foreign medical treatments and Bangkok’s Bumrungrad andSamitivej hospitals were among Southeast Asia’s first recipients of the United States’ prestigious Joint Commission International (JCI) certification, which is seen as the gold standard for healthcare service providers around the world. Now Bangkok has no less than eight JCI-accredited hospitals for medical tourists to book with. Singapore, on the other hand, has 13...