Thailand’s medical tourism industry is rebounding from setbacks brought on by the effects of Covid-19, particularly the now-cancelled Thailand Pass program, according to an analysis report by Krungthai Compass, a research institute under Krungthai Bank.

Private hospitals suffered under Covid, especially major hospital chains that depended on foreign patient revenue. This is supported by research from the Kasikorn Research Center, which found that in 2021, there was a 90% decrease in the number of medical tourists arriving, with most of those compelled to postpone hospital consultations coming from the Middle East, ASEAN nations, and China. According to Krungthai Compass, a significant portion of the 8.9 million foreign tourists that visited Thailand in 2022 came for medical care.

One-year medical tourism visa

A new visa policy that permits foreigners seeking medical care to remain in the country for up to a year without having to leave the country was agreed in principle by the cabinet last year.

According to news estimates, more than 3.1 million foreign visitors entered the nation in October, an increase of more than 43% over September.

Thailand leads other Asian nations in terms of the proportion of hospitals that have achieved Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation, the gold standard for patient safety and high-quality healthcare worldwide. According to the JCI list as of December 2021, the nation had 60 JCI-accredited medical sites nationwide, compared to 37 in India, 31 in Japan, 17 in Malaysia, and 5 in Singapore.

A US$104.68 billion market in 2019

The global medical tourism market reached over US$104.68 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach US$273.72 billion by 2027, according to Allied Market Research. Compared to US$9.1 billion (or roughly 200 billion baht) in 2019, the research center predicts that Thailand’s medical tourism business would reach US$24.4 billion (or roughly 760 billion baht) in 2027. Thailand’s market share in international medical tourism increased by 9% in 2019.

The highest savings can be obtained for more complex procedures, such as bypass surgery and heart valve replacement. While this kind of operation might cost USD $75,000 in the US, it will probably only set you back a third of that amount in Thailand.

Hip replacements can cost more than $33,000 USD in the US. The same treatment might only cost USD $13,000 in Thailand. A knee replacement procedure can cost USD $30,000 in the US, but only USD $11,500 in Thailand. Thus, it is simple to understand why people would fly to Thailand for these surgeries.

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