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BBL Come Up: Rise Of The $439 Billion Medical Tourism Market

By Tracey Goins

  • Medical tourism is expected to reach more than $200B globally by 2027
  • African American travelers economic value in 2020 was $63B

As the cost of healthcare care continues to rise in the U.S., medical tourism, a process of traveling to a different country for procedures is becoming increasingly popular. Pop culture stars like Kim Kardashian West and Nikki Minaj who receive major attention for their shapely physiques have become the modern-day apogee of plastic-surgery normalization. With cost savings of up to 90% for surgical or cosmetic procedures, the medical tourism market is expected to reach more than $200 billion globally by 2027.

Why This Matters: Nearly two million Americans are expected to travel abroad for medical procedures, where the availability of cheaper treatment options along with the better quality of care, is the primary factor responsible for the rising preference for offshore medical tourism. Patients can save from 30% to 80% off the total treatment costs. Low cost and easy availability of labor force is one of the main reasons behind cheaper treatment costs in medical tourism destinations. The economic value of African American travelers increased in 2020 to $83 billion from $48 billion in 2010. African American “cultural” travelers are the highest spenders, with an average per trip spend of $2,078. With the medical tourism industry aligning itself with the travel industry, it is highly likely the Black dollar will be key in profitability, and continuity of this multi billion dollar phenomenon.

The financial implications of medical tourism is profound since its reached a multi-billion dollar market. Travel agencies, healthcare brokers and insurance companies have become major players. Blue Cross Blue Shield actually promotes medical tourism and offers incentives, while other insurance companies have introduced pilot programs for its medical tourists.

In the past, medical tourism generally referenced those who traveled from underdeveloped countries, to highly developed countries for treatments unavailable at home. However, in recent years it equally referred to people from developed countries, who travel to under-developed countries for lower-priced medical treatments. Exorbitant U.S. healthcare costs have lead some people to travel to other countries for cheaper alternatives and private hospitals are generating major revenue from foreign patients as a result.

Situational Awareness: Cosmetic surgery is cited as the second most popular procedure among medical tourists. The desperation for surgical perfection has replaced the day when talk of cosmetic surgery in the Black community was taboo. Black women will most likely travel abroad to afford the cosmetic services they very much desire.


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