8/19/2009

More Americans discover Turkey’s health tourism

Dunya - With the losses of health insurance policies in addition to widespread job losses in the United States, more Americans have discovered Turkey’s health tourism as a means of lowering their medical expenses. US citizens account for an important share of health tourism patients, mainly due to low prices. Turkey hosts around 40,000 health tourists annually, creating a business volume of USD 150 million. The country is preferred by people from the European Union member countries, but US citizens have also started to show interest after the global crisis. The incoming patient profile has changed amidst the crisis, and the number of US patients has surpassed the number of Europeans, according to Health Tourism Turkey Coordinator, Gul Soydan. Many people in the United States have been left without insurance, said Soydan. “If a US citizen chooses to have full dental treatment in the US, the cost is USD 100,000; but in Turkey it is USD 30,000 at most. Having realized this advantage, US citizens flocked to Turkey for health tourism during the first six months of this year”, Soydan emphasized. A person arriving in Turkey for health tourism spends 12 times more than a regular tourist, according to a report issued in June by the health subcommittee of the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD). Medical tourism, which generates a global volume of USD 60 billion, is expected to reach USD 100 billion by the end of 2010, according to the report. Turkey’s health tourism is expected to cover 36 percent of its overall tourism revenues, which totaled USD 21.9 billion last year. Around 30,000 to 40,000 tourists arrive in Turkey for health tourism per annum, and the goal is to attain one million foreign patients and USD 8 billion in revenue by 2020, the report said. As noted in the TUSIAD report, health tourism can be a strategic area for Turkey, said Dr. Mahir Turan, Managing Director of the Goztepe Medical Park Hospital in Istanbul. “Turkey may quadruple its business volume in health tourism with a rationalistic strategy. Open-heart surgery, which costs USD 150,000 in the US, is around USD 12,000 to USD 15,000 in Turkey.”

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