What is medical tourism?

What is medical tourism?

 The globalization of the modern world presents us with a wide range of opportunities for work, recreation, communication, and travelling. It is nothing of a problem to get on a plane or in a car, cross a border, and go to a foreign country. Since it has become so common and easy, some new types have emerged, in particular, health and medical tourism.

It is a rather new type of tourism when patients travel overseas for operations and various therapies. Health tourism industry has been developing since the late 1990s, and now it is growing even more rapidly. Nowadays, the most common destinations for medical tourism are the developing countries such as India, Mexico, Barbados, Thailand, Spain, Belgium, Italy that over last years have sufficiently improved their healthcare systems and the quality of the services they provide. 

The rise of health tourism is associated with a number of issues healthcare service users face in their countries:

  • In some countries, patients are disappointed with their national healthcare systems and do not trust them, and thus go abroad to seek better quality care they need.
  • Some people face issues related to inadequate local insurance systems which make it impossible for them to use some services due to the lack of coverage or monetary refunding. 
  • It may also happen that some healthcare systems do not provide certain types of services or the price may be unreasonably high. For this reason, the patients have to resort to medical services in other countries, where those services are legally allowed, regulated, and require lower financial expenses.

Reasons for healthcare tourism

Since medical tourism has been trending for the last three decades, the number of healthcare services provided by the top countries in this sphere is pretty diverse. The range of medical services popular among health tourists includes the following:

  • Cosmetic surgery;
  • Dentistry (cosmetic and reconstruction);
  • Cardiology/cardiac surgery;
  • Orthopaedic surgery;
  • Fertility;
  • Organ, cell and tissue transplantation;
  • Diagnostics and check-ups.

Fertility tourism: common reasons 

Reproductive tourism is a phenomenon of access to overseas reproductive technology. It enables cheaper, more efficient or comprehensive services, and bypasses restrictive regulations, long waiting lists, legal constraints and sometimes high costs. So no wonder that fertility services are at the top of the list of medical tourism reasons. Even though reproduction seems to be the most private and intimate affair, most of the countries have imposed pretty strict legislation in the reproductive sphere, and thus patients who need the following reproductive technologies and services may go overseas to be able to use them:

Many countries have introduced restraining regulations for reproductive care. For example, in countries like Germany and Italy, patient faces restrictions over the number of eggs which may be fertilized and of the use of donor eggs, so respectively in some severe cases, the possibilities of obtaining a healthy fetus or performing PGD/PGS are considerably reduced. Some countries, such as Costa Rica have forbidden virtual retrieval of eggs which means that it is impossible to perform IVF there and the patients are deprived of the possibility to conceive a child using ARTs. Other countries such as the UK and Sweden permit only non-anonymous sperm donations, so there is a shortage of donors and long waiting lists. Facing such legal inconveniencies enhanced by the burden of infertility in their countries, the patients tend to search for help and fertility treatment abroad, in the countries that provide the services they need and offer prices they can afford.

The most popular destinations for infertility treatment abroad

The most popular destinations for fertility tourism include India, Mexico, Barbados, Thailand, the USA, Belgium, Spain, Italy, etc. The prices and the services those countries offer wide in range. For example, India is one of the most popular destinations for surrogacy, because Indian women rarely misuse alcohol or tobacco, while Spain is often visited by the patients who need to use donor sperm for infertility treatment.

In recent years, Ukraine has become one of the top countries for patients who seek fertility treatment abroad. It is considered to be a country “friendly” to medical tourists, especially in terms of egg donation and surrogacy. Ukrainian legislation is rather beneficial for reproductive service users. For instance, under Ukrainian surrogacy law, the surrogate mother and her partner or spouse are not treated as the parents of a child born through a surrogacy agreement and, instead, all duties and rights and the status of a parent under the law are granted to the intended parents. Ukrainian reproductive clinics provide the full range of reproductive services: from IVF cycles and surrogacy to PGD and PGS. What is more, due to a high competition at the market in Ukraine, they strive to provide the best services complying with the highest international standards of care to the patients who decided to go for surrogacy or IVF abroad.

Ukrainian reproductive healthcare is rapidly developing, that is why, there is a great competition among fertility clinics in terms of quality, application of the latest advances in technologies, compliance with European standards of care, experience sharing with scientists from all around the worlds. This factor is highly advantageous for the patients who apply for reproductive services in Ukraine because they get a chance to obtain high-quality care at a reasonable price.

Healthcare tourism is one of the best options for patients who struggle to overcome their infertility issues and have stumbled over imperfect national legislation in the reproductive sphere. If it is impossible for you to obtain the help and support you need in your country, you may always go abroad to get the chance to feel the joy of parenthood. It is nothing of a problem to contact a fertility clinic abroad and get an expert consultation on both reproductive and legal aspects of the services you would like to use.