Medical Tourism: Where to go in Europe
Would you consider a medical holiday?
European destinations that deliver high quality, low-cost healthcare for medical tourists.
It's estimated that around seven million people travel overseas every year for medical care, covering anything from dental, cosmetic and weight-loss to orthopaedic, cardiovascular, reproductive and cancer treatments. Many are Americans without health insurance, looking for lower costs than in the US, or Brits and Canadians who've hit a dead end or long health service waiting lists at home.
Anyone travelling abroad for medical reasons will need to carefully consider the healthcare services on offer (including infection control), costs, safety, security and the destination itself.
Competitive prices (which can be around 50% lower than the UK), high standards of healthcare, stable governments, cheap flights and accommodation plus a handy lack of tropical diseases are tempting some medical tourists away from the popular Asian and South American destinations to Europe.
Central and Eastern European countries in particular have been growing in popularity for health tourism due to their well-equipped medical facilities and generous EU funding. Traditionally destinations for natural spa and wellness breaks, they are now attracting those in need of fast, well-priced and high quality medical care.
Intriguingly, Hungary is home to more dentists per capita than any other country in the world, most with advanced equipment and high care standards.
Prices are significantly lower than the US and other western European countries, appealing to patients in need of basic treatments all the way through to full-mouth restorations and reconstructive work. A city break in lovely, complex Budapest is a must.
The Polish government has seen the benefits that medical tourism could bring to their economy and is now promoting the country as a world-class healthcare destination.
Sophisticated medical facilities, low costs and high care standards mean that medical tourists are increasingly heading to Poland for cosmetic surgery, dentistry, knee surgery and hip replacements, weight-loss surgery such as gastric bands and IVF. Patients can also explore the lively cultural hub Warsaw and cool Krakow while they're at it.
Brits have loved Spain as a traditional tourist destination for a long time, and its healthcare is now attracting the attention of many overseas visitors.
The fantastic cosmopolitan cities of Barcelona and Madrid, and Malaga on the Costa del Sol, offer numerous hospitals and clinics as well as top holiday appeal. Ophthalmology, cosmetic surgery, dentistry, orthopaedics and weight-loss surgery are favourites.
The gorgeous historic Czech capital is a popular choice for cosmetic surgery and dental treatment. In recent years a number of private clinics have opened, many run by doctors trained in western Europe leading teams who speak English.
Several health tourism packages provide the opportunity to enjoy hiking, horse riding or cycling excursions along with your treatment, if you're up to it.
Diverse, vibrant and exotic Turkey is a big player in the medical tourism world now, with more than 1,200 public and private hospitals proactively welcoming overseas patients.
The country's biggest cities - Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir - are bases for the leading providers, making it very easy to enjoy the holiday of a lifetime along with healthcare, depending on the treatment of course. Turkey's specialities include transplants, neurosurgery, orthopaedics, ophthalmology, cardiology, cosmetic surgery and dentistry.
If you are considering travelling overseas for medical care, start your research with Patients Beyond Borders and the Medical Tourism Association.
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Written by Maxine Clarke: a writer, mummy, missus and campervan-lover. Used to travel, now enjoys a good holiday! Follow her on Twitter.Top