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The Rise of Medical Tourism in Mexico

07 July, 2014

The worldwide market for medical tourism reached well into the billions last year and Mexico is quickly becoming one of the world’s most popular destinations for patients who are seeking healthcare outside of their own country.

“Mexico is number two in the global ranking of medical tourism, falling only behind Thailand,” writes the Salem News. “Approximately 1,000,000 residents of the U.S. alone, mainly persons of Latino heritage from California, Arizona and Texas, seek medical assistance in Mexico.”

Earnings from Mexico’s burgeoning medical tourism industry reportedly jumped from $1.5 billion in 2006, to $2.85 billion in 2013, prompting analysts to project an ongoing annual growth rate of around seven percent for the industry’s future. The numbers are so good, in fact, that Mexico’s Secretary of the Economy has been working with foreign capitalists to develop ways to invest in this niche, which provides an attractive supplement to Mexico’s other major investment sectors namely energy, aerospace, automotive, mining, real estate and manufacturing.

Cancun alone is expecting to see more than 60,000 patients from the U.S., Canada and Central America annually by 2021, according to Servando Acuna Braun, who serves as president of the Medical Tourism Association of Quintana Roo. People come to receive dental, orthopedic and other specialty care, and then stay to enjoy some recovery time against the sparkling backdrop of the Mexican Caribbean Sea. In 2014, Braun expects Cancun to receive at least 15,000 visitors for various services at the area’s clinics and hospitals, representing a 100 percent increase from 2013.

“Across the nation,Mexico has more than 71,000 specialists working in medical centers and private facilities,” writes the Yucatan Times. “Nearly two-thirds of all doctors in Mexico are specialists, contrasted with an average of 57.7 percent for all OECD countries.”

According to Patients Beyond Borders, patients in the U.S. and Canada can expect to pay between 36 and 80 percent less in Mexico for operations and treatments than they would at home. The state of Quintana Roo, which is home to Cancun, Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya, is one of the most popular destinations for medical tourism in Mexico, along with the state of Jalisco, where Puerto Vallarta is located, and Baja California Sur, which is home to Cabo San Lucas.

To meet growing demand for medical tourism in the region, health officials in Quintana Roo have announced plans to build a massive new medical complex called Jardines de la Sabiduria, or Gardens of Wisdom. Resembling a city, the development will span 550-hectares between Cancun and nearby Puerto Morelos and will include a residential zone, a medical zone, entertainment and educational components. Specialty centers will focus on children, cancer patients, dental needs and orthopedic surgery. 

Connectivity and close geographical proximity to the U.S. and Canada are also helping to play a role in Mexico’s growing medical tourism sector. Cancun alone offers direct connection to 67 cities in the U.S. and 23 in Canada. In addition, all of the popular areas for patients seeking medical care in Mexico offer world-class amenities, stunning natural beauty and a safe, laid-back environment that is ideal for recovery.

Of course, considering that International Living just named Mexico one of the world’s top five countries for providing the best healthcare, it’s not too surprising that people are flocking here to take advantage of first class services. Larger medical facilities in Mexico’s popular medical tourism destinations rival anything you will find in the U.S.,while the smaller clinics and specialty practices are clean, modern and professional.

Have you ever considered scheduling or actually underwent a medical procedure in another country? Share your healthcare concerns and questions with us in the comments section below!

Topics: Tourism