Medical Tourism: All You Wanted To Know

By: Dr. Sonia Lal Gupta and Dr. Sameer Gupta

Medical Tourism: An Overview

The term ‘Medical Tourism’ is referred to people traveling to foreign countries for medical treatments, rather than availing the ones in their own country. Health tourism is a broader term that entails travel for medical treatments as well as health care services such as alternative medicine, psychiatry, convalescent care, and burial ones. There are many reasons why people seek medical treatment overseas.

Previously, people from less-developed countries would seek treatment at the chief medical centers in the developed countries due to non-availability of the required treatments in their home country; however, nowadays, to save on costs, patients also travel from the developed countries to the developing countries.

In our practice we regularly treat patients from the middle east, Afghanistan and all regions of south east Asia who have come to avail either cutting edge medical treatment or saving on costs compared to their parent country.

More popularly, the trend of medical tourism veers towards surgical or similar procedures. Though, for dealing with fertility, cardiovascular and dental issues, too, people may visit other countries. Also, in some cases where the person has a rare condition, they may travel to another country that is well-versed with treating the disorder.

Also, medical tourism has gained popularity in recent times and can be gauged by the fact that commercial air ambulance services via airplane are available for medical tourists. Moreover, a type of non-emergency service, commercial air medical escort services, can be availed; here, the medical tourists are escorted by competent doctors and medical care to the selected destination. By opting for commercial airplane services, rather than private jets, you can save on costs.

Medical Tourism: Related Risks

There are several risks associated with medical tourism. Yet, by having knowledge of the concerned threats, you can take the necessary precautions.

  • Language may pose to be a problem. If availing medical treatment at a center where you are not familiar with the lingo, there is the possibility of being misunderstood and also, dealing with the risk of further medical complications.
  • In some countries, the medicines could be of low-quality.
  • You may have to deal with unwarranted legal issues in cases of medical malpractices; these add to your burdens, even though legal remedies are available.
  • There is risk of blood clots if flying post surgery.

Medical Tourism: Doing the Needful

Refer to the following details for some recommendations when traveling to foreign lands for treatments.

  • Consult a medical tourism consultant 4-5 weeks before you travel to discuss the risks, precautions to be taken and other basic information.
  • Make sure to carry all your medical records – including the prescriptions and details of the medicines - to help the doctors assess your condition correctly. Also, ensure that you carry them back home after your treatment.
  • Be sure to check the credentials and qualifications of the facility and medical practitioners respectively. Besides, check whether the medical centers are accredited by the requisite statutory bodies.

Medical Tourism: Popular Destinations

Some favored medical tourism destinations are discussed in the following details.


The country offers affordable and quality medical care services. In fact, people can save from 60 to 90 percent of health care costs in India, as compared to the United States. This plays host to many countries in south east Asia and the middle east.


The 2 Brazilian cities, Sao Paulo and Florianopolis, are renowned for their world-class medical technology.


Malaysia has a range of services, including the concierge and lounge ones, to cater to the varied needs of the medical tourists.


Thailand has the largest pool of internationally-acclaimed hospitals in South-East Asia.


Turkey’s medical treatments costs are economical. You can save further by availing the services of the country’s national carrier, Turkish Airlines that offers discounted fares to medical tourists.

Other Countries

Taiwan, Singapore, Costa Rica, South Korea, and Mexico are other strong contenders in the field of medical tourism. Also, they are taking several measures to boost the inflow of medical patients in their countries by providing reasonably-priced healthcare amenities.

Dr. Sameer Gupta FACC, FSCAI, Diplomate, National Board of Echocardiography (USA)
Dr. Gupta, awarded the status of “Extraordinary Ability and Achievement” by the United States Government in 2013, is a highly skilled cardiologist specializing in Interventional cardiovascular and peripheral procedures. A native of New Delhi, Dr Gupta spent 10 years in USA to accumulate knowledge, experience & awards returning to India to deliver world-class health care to his country and serve its people.
Dr. Sonia Lal Gupta, MBBS, Diplomate of American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
Sonia Lal Gupta MD is a highly qualified Board Certified Neurologist. After completing her MBBS from Government Medical College Patiala, she pursued Neurology at New York Medical College. She graduated in 2011 becoming one of the youngest neurologists in the world at the age of 27.