I had dinner last night with a group of people interested in putting together an organization or association to build up and promote Puerto Vallarta as a destination for medical tourism. I was the guest of Carlos Arceo who put together the very successful medical tourism congress held in PV in August, and David Connell, who is helping Carlos establish a national medical tourism association (A.C.) for the country.
The amount of money being spent in medical tourism is quite something. There are a number of countries very involved in this, such as Costa Rica, India and Thailand, but the potential for growth in this industry for Mexico when you consider the cost of health care and the aging baby boomers in the USA, is enormous.
Services typically sought by travelers include elective procedures as well as complex specialized surgeries such as joint replacement (knee/hip), cardiac surgery, dental surgery, and cosmetic surgeries. However, virtually every type of health care, including psychiatry, alternative treatments, convalescent care and even burial services are available.
Over 50 countries have identified medical tourism as a national industry. Factors that have led to the increasing popularity of medical travel include the high cost of health care, long wait times for certain procedures, the ease and affordability of international travel, and improvements in both technology and standards of care in many countries. Medical tourists can come from anywhere in the First World, including Europe, the Middle East, Japan, the United States, and Canada. This is because of their large populations, comparatively high wealth, the high expense of health care or lack of health care options locally, and increasingly high expectations of their populations with respect to health care.
A forecast by Deloitte Consulting published in August 2008 projected that medical tourism originating in the US could jump by a factor of ten over the next decade. An estimated 750,000 Americans went abroad for health care in 2007, and the report estimated that a million and a half would seek health care outside the US in 2008. (Wikipedia)
I don’t think Carlos had any difficulty convincing everyone at the table of the great opportunities this could hold for the community and business sector, but the difficult part will getting the vision to move forward and everyone working together (tourism and medical sectors).
IF they are successful, this would certainly prove beneficial to the local real estate market. Already Vallarta has excellent medical facilities, but this would take it to another level, offering future homeowners access to excellent medical care at very affordable prices.