Medical “tourism” is a potentially huge market. The size of the market is greatly aided by the extremely expensive and broken USA health care system. Even while the standard rich country provides the same, or better, results than the USA for half the cost they are not doing well either (so the USA is very bad compared to pretty bad results for rich countries on average).
Medical tourism is on of the most attractive economic growth areas. However the competition is fairly high as the attractiveness of building such an industry is well known. Countries that have very good potential are: Thailand, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore (for high end solutions), Costa Rica, India, Philippines and Panama. India has some great advantages but they have a deeply ingrained and extremely unhelpful bureaucracy. It seems to me that that creates a burden that likely means India can’t complete with the others effectively.
Even for the simplest aspect – visas for those seeking to bring income into the country as medical tourists I don’t have confidence India can do well.
“They’ve done everything to ruin our prospects of becoming a tourism center,” Reddy said. “I once said India should become the global health-care destination–now I’m swallowing those words. It could grow 10-fold in the next five years, if only the government would facilitate it, the way others have.”
India continues to be held back economically (across the entire economy not just in health care) by ineffective and burdensome regulation and government inefficiency.
The USA actually has a portion of the medical tourism market – those that have no concern about price (royalty, trust fund babies, movie stars etc.). Those with any concern about price can find the same level of care in Singapore, Japan, France, etc. at a fraction of the price.
I believe 2 or 3 countries in South East Asia will do very well with international medical care. The extent to which Thailand, Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia (and potentially others) do in this field could greatly impact their economic success. There is a great potential for Singapore and Malaysia to cooperate in this area (in Malaysia’s Iskandar region, which borders Singapore).