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Medical Tourism Survey

Medical tourism is one of the topics covered in a new survey of outbound US travellers.

The ‘Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2010 Portrait Of American Travelers’ is a survey of the travel habits, intentions and preferences of Americans living in the USA.The national survey of 2,524 US households who are active travelers was conducted in February 2010. The results provide an in-depth examination of the impact of the current economic environment, social values and media habits on the travel habits of Americans with an annual household income of $50,000 or more.

Ypartnership is a leading marketing services company serving travel, leisure and entertainment clients. The agency's Insights group is a leading source of market intelligence on emerging business and leisure travel trends. Harrison Group is a leading market research and strategy consulting firm specializing in market strategy, market analytics, survey and forecasting services. This year’s survey was an in-depth examination of the impact of the current economic environment, prevailing social values and emerging media habits on the travel behaviour of American travellers. It seeks the underlying motivations with an emphasis on how they plan, purchase and share travel experiences; rather than a simplistic view of past travel habits. For the first time, the annual survey investigated medical tourism.

The survey is only about attitudes and the figures do not reflect anything on actual numbers who have travelled. In consumer research, attitude/intent is not necessarily transferred into actual purchase in any meaningful way. 50% of leisure travelers are now familiar with the concept of medical tourism, and 17% would consider having a medical procedure done outside the U.S. assuming it is perceived to be of comparable quality. 22% are not sure, suggesting they would also be open to considering this as an alternative to treatment at home if certain conditions were met.

Among adults who would consider traveling outside the U.S. for major medical care, 84% cite the lower cost as the primary reason why. 66% mention comparable or a better quality of care, while 43% cite access to medical treatments or procedures that are not covered by their insurance at home, and 41% mention shorter waiting periods to access care .22% cite access to experimental or non-FDA approved treatments and 20% mention concerns about privacy

Among countries measured in the survey as possible medical tourism destinations, Canada reigns as the number one choice. The top eleven countries:

  • Canada (42%)
  • United Kingdom (32%)
  • Germany (31%)
  • Sweden (28%)
  • France (24%)
  • Mexico (13%)
  • India (11%)
  • Singapore (10%)
  • Costa Rica (9%)
  • Brazil (7%)
  • Puerto Rico (7%)

These figures are on the basis that they are paid for by health insurers, financial incentives from insurers and/or employers are at least comparable to treatment in the USA, and quality of care is also equivalent. The figures do not reflect intent or willingness to travel for self-payers.

These results are another confirmation of a trend that many medical tourism experts accept, but others continue to deny, that travel time and nearness of destination are key to where medical tourists are prepared to go, not cost alone. American preference is within the American continent, followed by Europe, with Asia much less popular.


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