In the past, medical tourism was a term that usually referred to people from less-developed countries traveling abroad for medical treatment that wasn’t available in their home country. However, with the rising costs of healthcare in developed countries, medical tourism in Turkey and other developing countries keeps increasing. A lot of people choose to have their surgery abroad and enjoy a medical vacation at the same time.
Oftentimes, the combined cost of the two is lower than the fee for surgery in their home country. That’s why countries like Turkey, Thailand, and India are becoming popular medical tourism destinations. In this article, we’ll focus on medical tourism in Turkey and see why this country attracts almost one million medical tourists every year!
The growth of medical tourism in Turkey in recent years
Turkey is one of only a few countries that stretches over two different continents and a popular tourist destination that’s slowly turning into a medical tourism destination. With its mesmerizing sandy beaches and cities full of history, Turkey has always been a popular tourist destination. However, not too many people realize that Turkey is one of the world’s best destinations for medical tourism.
Over the course of the last couple of decades, the large-scale investments by the public and private sector significantly improved the country’s medical infrastructure. The government recently launched a lot of state-of-the-art City Hospitals across the country, while private hospitals also invested heavily in their facilities, implementing services and capacities designed to cater patients from foreign countries.
As a consequence, medical tourism in Turkey has been booming, especially in the last few years. In 2018, Turkey welcomed more than 850,000 medical tourists from 149 different countries, according to the Turkish Healthcare Travel Council. Additionally, Turkey’s national carrier, Turkish Airlines, provides discounted flight fares to people traveling in Turkey for medical tourism.
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What makes Turkey a great medical tourism destination?
Based on installed capacities, Turkey is the fourth geothermal country in the world, falling behind only the US, the Philippines, and Indonesia. In case you didn’t know, geothermal hot water is widely used in medicine. This, combined with the highly-qualified workforce and well-equipped hospitals make Turkey one of the world’s best medical tourism destinations.
Additionally, the number of accredited hospitals specializing in cardiology, transplantation, plastic surgery, and advanced oncotherapy has been growing exponentially over the last two decades. Furthermore, after the launch of Istanbul’s new airport, patients from over 50 countries will be able to reach Istanbul with a four-hour flight. Taking all this into consideration, we can safely assume that medical tourism in Turkey will only keep growing. Another great reason that points to that direction is…
The cost efficiency of traveling to Turkey for medical purpose
Compared to the EU and the US, a lot of surgical fees are 50-60% lower in Turkey. Hence, it makes sense for a lot of people to travel to Turkey, have surgery over there, and even have an extended holiday- and still spend less money than what they would have to pay for the treatment in their native country. For example, an angioplasty procedure in the United States costs around $48,000 (on average).
In Turkey, the same procedure costs $5,000, which is even cheaper than countries like Thailand, India, and Singapore. Furthermore, knee joint replacements cost around $50,000 in the US, while in Turkey, this procedure would cost you only $11,000.
But the list doesn’t end there. The fees for cosmetic procedures like hair transplants are also significantly lower in Turkey. For example, in the UK, hair transplants cost up to £30,000, making them too expensive for most people. Despite the side effects, many seek the treatment to avoid the depression that comes with hair loss.
In Turkey, on the other hand, the same treatment costs between $1,000 and $2,500. Medical tourism has opened an escape route for those struggling financially and created a medium for them through which they can receive high-quality medical care at lower prices.
And last but not least, Turkey has an abundance of beautiful places to visit, an endless list of tourist attractions, and a superb tourist infrastructure, and some of the finest family-oriented resorts in the Mediterranean.
A few things you should know about medical tourism in Turkey
Earnings: Turkey is currently getting approximately $4 billion per year in health tourism revenue. According to government calculations, the number of medical tourists should increase to 2 million patients and the revenues to $20 billion by 2023.
Accredited hospitals: There are more than 50 JCI accredited hospitals in Turkey. Most of them are located in Istanbul, Bursa, Antalya, Izmir, Adana, and Kocaeli. All of them satisfy the same standards as EU countries, as Turkey has been aiming to enter the union for over two decades. Additionally, some hospitals have partnerships with institutions like the Harvard Medical Center and the Johns Hopkins Institute.
Waiting time: The average waiting time for complicated surgical procedures in the western world is quite long. In Turkey, the average waiting time is incomparably shorter. For example, the average waiting time for knee surgery in the EU and the US is 18 months. In Turkey, the average waiting time for the same procedure is only two weeks.
The growth pace: According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the number of foreign medical tourists has been increasing with a stunning 30% per year over the last decade. This contributed to Turkey becoming a top 10 destination for medical tourism in 2018, according to TripAdvisor’s Travellers Choice.
Medical vacations: Turkey has a lot of cities with Mediterranean weather but also a lot of mountains and beautiful villages. This makes it the perfect destination for a vacation. Hence, a lot of people decide not only to undergo surgery in Turkey but also have their vacation here.
Finally, even though this article is about medical tourism we simply can’t forget about…
The leisure activities Turkey has to offer
The list of activities that you can indulge in when visiting Turkey is endless. Depending on which season you choose to undergo your surgery and the geographical location, it’s safe to assume that you’ll find some interesting things to do throughout the year. You can visit one of the many ancient monuments, just relax on one of the many pristine, beautiful beaches or experience the culture of the country that connects the east and the west.
Hence, the well-deserving nickname, the crossroad of the world. In fact, this is one of Turkey’s strategic advantages- that it can easily welcome patients from a large geographic scope. As Napoleon said it: ‘If the world was only one country, Istanbul would be its capital’ and seeing everything Istanbul has to offer, I can see what he meant. If you’re looking to see the best of Turkey in a short period (while recovering or waiting for your surgery date), this tour by G Adventures is a great choice.
You can try to arrange your own accommodation, transportation, and sightseeing but it’s virtually impossible to do that and spend less than what you’d pay for this amazing tour.
Most medical tourists choose cities like Istanbul, Antalya, and Ankara, which also are some of Turkey’s most famous tourist destinations. However, a lot of people disregard that there are a lot of high-quality hospitals in the north of Turkey, which also is one of the least visited parts of the country, despite the plethora of activities it offers to visitors.
Did you ever travel somewhere for medical purposes? Would you consider Turkey as a medical vacation destination? What do you think about medical tourism in Turkey? Share your thoughts and let me know in the comments!
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