How has Medical Tourism Affected the Canadian Economy

There are several reasons why Canadians seek Medical Tourism, but the most cited is the long wait times. For example, while wait lists for hip replacements can stretch to as long as one year here, patients with resources can have it done immediately in India and Thailand. The 600,000 fewer surgeries performed during the first 22 months of the COVID-19 pandemic and the longest wait time ever recorded for specialist care may have sparked an increase in patients pursuing Medical Tourism. However, although we have anecdotal examples of this, we still lack reliable data.

The exact number of Canadians pursuing Medical Tourism is unknown, but it’s estimated that 63,459 Canadians received medical care internationally in 2016. And, onwards, Canadians spent as much as $2.3 billion on out-of-country health care. While the number of medical tourism agencies currently working in Canada has not been documented, more than a decade ago, Canada had approximately 18 operational medical tourism agencies. There is a broad spectrum of care services offered, including cardiac, plastic, transplant, orthopaedic, dental and other surgeries, and while some offer follow-up care, others even allow patients to fly abroad for the procedure with their Canadian specialists. 

Among the top destinations for medical tourism are Costa Rica, India, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and the United States.

While some advocate that Medical Tourism might alleviate the Canadian health-care system’s wait times and improve overall access to care, Medical Tourism also comes with its fair share of concerns and costs. A worrisome complication is the acquisition of drug-resistant organisms after accessing health care abroad and the subsequent cross-border spread. Another is the financial cost related to postoperative Medical Tourism complications. Across the country, it is estimated that postoperative Medical Tourism infectious complications might cost $5.9-$17.7 million annually.

Canadian physicians have also expressed concerns that Medical Tourism disrupts the continuity of care and their ability to provide adequate follow-up care. Focus group participants also worried about legal liabilities should they be asked to clinically support treatments started abroad. Is this a financial windfall and boost to the Canadian medical field or a further burden on a system already facing staffing shortages and long wait times?

Dentistry                 Hair Transplant                 Cosmetic Surgery                 Beauty Esthetics                 IVF                 Morphodynamic Cosmetic Surgery                 Wellness Tourism                 Dermatology                 Scalp Micropigmentation                 Medical Procedures                 Robotic Orthopedic Surgery                 Height Enlargement Surgery                 Spine Surgery

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