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Medical Travel Is Not Just About The Cost

3 Million people spent $76B finding care away from home this year.

According to a recent Frost and Sullivan research report on the medical travel business, medical tourism wil grow to be a $100 B business by the end of 2012. Hot spots include the Middle East, Asia and Germany.

Most people think cost is driving the traffic. However, a McKinsey and Company 2008 report also emphasizes that 40 per cent of medical travelers seek advanced technology, while 32 per cent seek better healthcare. Another 15 per cent seek faster medical services while only 9 per cent of travelers seek lower costs as their primary consideration.

As reimbursements for Medicaid and Medicare continue to decrease, more and more US doctors indicate they will cut back seeing patients insured by these government insurance plans,  or stop seeing them altogether. This will further fuel access, not cost , to the forefront of medical travel.

Inbound tourism is the flip side of the same coin. As US healthcare continues to get more expensive and more difficult to access, hospitals are looking for ways to fill the beds, and foreign patients fit the bill, and pay it in cash.

As I've pointed out before, these market eruptions present entrepreneurs with big opportunities. Healthcare reform might change the rules, but I don't think significantly, given the big picture patient demographic and manpower supply and demand challenges.

Global referral communications, coordination and care is a growth industry begging for talent and $100B is likely to get a lot of attention. It certainly got mine. (

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