Stat of the month: Get better abroad

$100bn - Estimated global value of medical tourism, 2010

by
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

That's up from around $60bn now. Last year, 750,000 Americans sought treatment abroad and the number is expected to soar to 10 million by 2012 - all driven by America's famously costly healthcare system. Patients are increasingly heading for India, Thailand and Singapore, where treatment can cost as little as 10% of the equivalent in the US. Brits are giving foreign hospitals a cash injection too. Snaking waiting-lists, ravenous super-bugs and the expense of private care on these shores have had us looking elsewhere for hip replacements, boob jobs and teeth-whitening. Destination: anywhere, from France to Goa. Even Israel is now marketing itself as a hub for medical tourism. India was the top destination for Brits last year, claiming a total of 175,000 health tourists. The sums certainly seem sound: at £850, a nose job there will cost about a quarter of the price of having it done in the UK. Critics may point to the risks - such as uncertainties over hygiene, training and legal issues if it all goes wrong - but, clearly, our own health system is no longer immune. Nye Bevan would not approve.

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