Medical tourist rights

Why is the popularity of medical tourism growing, and can Russia succeed in this market

Israel is the only country in the world to pass a law regulating medical tourism!

Over the past decades, the number of foreign citizens arriving in Israel as part of medical tourism has grown significantly in line with global trends. Despite partial regulatory measures, there has been no clear medical tourism policy in Israel so far.

In January 2019, Israel passed a law regulating medical tourism and protecting the rights and interests of the patient!

The relevance of the law to patients:

1. Protection of the rights and interests of foreign patients! The current law guarantees that patients receive professional, ethical and honest healthcare.

2. The law obliges to provide medical programs for diagnosis/treatment, signed by the future attending physician, prior to the arrival of the patient. This provision guarantees a personal approach and high-quality training of an Israeli specialist.

3. The cost of medical services and patient support is transparently displayed in the offer sent before arriving in Israel.

4. The law regulates the activities of agents/companies/intermediaries providing medical tourism services. Today, each of them is required to obtain a license and register with the Ministry of Health.

5. No medical tourism company will be able to identify itself with the name of a hospital anymore.

What happened before

Prior to the adoption of the law, many medical tourism firms:

1) Introduced themselves as official staff of the international department at the hospital.

2) We deliberately created sites similar to the official site of this or that clinic.

Recently, the Russian government approved a strategy for the development of export of services until 2025, a separate chapter in which is devoted to ensuring the flow of foreigners to domestic medical institutions. This is one of many medical tourism initiatives launched by Russian officials in recent months.

Here they are unoriginal: the importance of national health resorts entering the world market is now recognized in many countries. So, at the end of July, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili announced her intention to take a leading position in the medical tourism industry, a few days later the new head of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, announced the same goal. In recent years, Turkey and South Korea have proven the effectiveness of promoting medical exports with the help of government programs.

If you turn to marketing research, wellness travel is becoming one of the main trends in the travel industry. Some tourists choose a mixed travel format - to see the world and fix themselves, others go abroad for treatment purely out of necessity. With the help of industry experts, Profil decided to find out how Russians find their bearings in the range of foreign clinics and why our hospitals cannot yet compete with them.

Formally, medical tourism is not a new phenomenon: back in the 18th-19th centuries, European aristocrats started a fashion to travel "to the waters", that is, to thermal resorts. But then such trips were available only to a select few. Treatment abroad has appeared on the mass market in recent decades, and by and large - with the advent of the Internet, since without it, the very process of applying to a foreign clinic (requiring the sending of many documents) was almost insurmountable.

In the mid-2000s, the international health tourism market was estimated at $ 40 billion (data from the Global Wellness Tourism Congress). In 2017, according to the calculations of Oxford Economics and Visa, it amounted to $ 439 billion, and by 2025 it will exceed $ 3 trillion, the annual growth is at least 25%. According to the International Medical Tourism Association (IMTA), today about 11 million tourists travel for health purposes a year, in the 2020s this number will grow several times, reaching 3% of the world's population.

As stated in last year's Global Wellness Summit report, the development of the travel market marks a major trend in the global travel industry: a shift in priorities from experiental to transformational tourism. Simply put, if earlier an ordinary vacationer set off on a journey for impressions and beautiful shots, now this is not enough: I want to combine business with pleasure, whether it be learning new skills, physical or spiritual improvement.

In this sense, treatment tours seem to be one of the solutions to the problem of tourist "overtourism" faced by Paris, Rome, London and other centers of attraction - after all, health resorts are usually located away from them ...

At the same time, there are still discrepancies in the assessment of the medical tourism market. So, according to Euromonitor International, in 2017 its volume amounted to $ 40 billion (which is ten times less than the above estimate of Oxford Economics and Visa). And Transparency Market Research even estimated it at $ 10.5 billion.

The reason for the inconsistencies is the ambiguity of the original concept. In a broad sense, medical tourism includes all types of tours for health purposes. These include spa trips to thermal, mud, spa and wellness resorts. And itineraries in which a visit to a foreign clinic for a follow-up examination (which theoretically can be done in the country of residence) is combined with active or sightseeing rest on other days: it is the possibility of such a combination that creates "added value" for the tourist.

The healing mud of the Dead Sea has long been popular with Russians

Corinna Kern/DPA/Vostock Photo

In other words, you don't have to feel sick to be interested in medical tourism. As for trips with a direct medical purpose, the reason for them is usually the price factor: they go to fight the disease where it is cheaper than at home. For example, many US residents save on national health insurance by purchasing a truncated version of the policy. And if they find diseases that he does not cover, they go to Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil for treatment. Residents of Western European countries follow the same principle to the clinics of Hungary and Turkey, the Japanese travel to Malaysia and Thailand.

A separate category is made up of specialized programs: plastic surgery, artificial insemination, abortion and even sex reassignment surgery (the latter, for example, are widely practiced in Thailand). Abroad, they are made either because of a ban at home, or out of a desire to keep the procedure secret from the authorities or relatives.

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