Why is India preferred by Medical Tourists Why is it important for an NRI

Updated on: 2020-07-21 - 2 mins read

How much is India’s Medical Tourism sector worth?

In India, along with the rich culture and classic destinations, Healthcare is becoming a booming sector. By the end of 2020, India's medical tourism sector is estimated to be worth US$ 9 billion as per a report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Ernst & Young. It is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 15%, according to a report by FICCI and IMS Health, a health industry information firm and it would be around 20% of the global market by 2020. The number of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) coming to India on a medical visa has been on the rise over the past few years. The average growth rate has been around 55 percent, and it is expected to be maintained in the coming years.

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Why is India preferred by an NRI/Foreigners when it comes to Major Medical surgeries?

As per ‘India: Building Best Practices in Healthcare Services Globally 2019’ report, the rising costs of health care in developed countries such as the UK and the US will make India an affordable alternative soon. The report mentions that India is one of the preferred destinations for Medical Value Travel (MVT) as it occupies the fifth position among 41 major medical tourism destinations, as per Medical Tourism Index Overall ranking, 2016.

Most overseas patients coming to India are NRIs who wish to combine their medical services with a trip back home. There are several factors that encourage foreign nationals to seek healthcare in India. Some of the main factors are:

  • Low-cost of healthcare – Financial Savings
  • Frontier Technologies
  • Fast Track – Zero Waiting Time
  • Quality of services
  • Well qualified and skilled healthcare professionals
  • Ayurveda & Alternative Medicine
  • No language barrier
  • For NRIs, along with affordable medical treatments, the incentive to spend time with family and friends is one of the important reasons to choose India as a healthcare provider. There are several tour companies that provide affordable packages for medical treatments along with travel to famous destinations in India.

    Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Kolkata are the preferred destination cities for medical tourists arriving in India. Around 27 percent of India's medical tourists head Maharashtra, from which 80 percent head to Mumbai. Chennai attracts nearly 15 percent of the incoming foreign patients and Kerala handles around 5 percent to 7 percent. Kerala has emerged as the best state in the country in terms of healthcare performance, reveals a latest Health Index report, jointly prepared by the World Bank and Niti Aayog.

    How Cost of Major surgeries in India compare with other parts of World?

    The cost of treatment in India is much lower, almost three times less expensive in comparison to several western countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. As per the data provided by the Medical Tourism Association in 2019, in India, a heart bypass treatment costs USD 7900 whereas it costs around USD 17200 in Singapore and USD 144000 in the United States. Similar medical treatments in India cost much less than what they cost in developed countries.

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    How India is attracting Medical tourists?

    India is one of the first countries to promote medical tourism as an export industry by offering special tax incentives to medical tourists’ care providers. This is because India has highly qualified medical professionals and a growing private sector which includes hospitals and clinics with the latest technology and best practitioners.

    India is working hard to increase its medical tourism. The availability of better flight connectivity, simpler visa rules, and more tie-ups between hospitals and the hospitality industry will go a long way in attracting medical tourism.

    1. A leading authority on global health care practices, Commission International (JCI) has accredited 38 hospitals in India. works to improve patient safety and quality of health care in the international community by offering education, publications, advisory services, and international accreditation and certification. National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) has also accredited 619 hospitals. As per the report, it is amazing that the post-operative mortality rate in India is around 1.4 percent compared to 1.9 percent in countries like the US.

    2. To promote Medical tourism, India has relaxed its visa rules which makes it easier than before for foreigners to visit India and get world-class medical treatments. As per the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) of India, foreigners with long-term visas of six months and more need not to convert these to medical visas for treatment of minor conditions that only require outpatient consultation. Before modification in visa rules, foreign nationals on valid visas were facing difficulties in getting medical treatment in India when they fell ill and were being asked to convert these before being admitted to the hospital. But now, For sudden illnesses that require hospitalization of fewer than 180 days, foreign nationals or their representatives have to approach the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) and submit a medical certificate from a recognized hospital with information about the recommended treatment and its duration. The FRRO can grant a medical permit of fewer than 180 days against a fee. In such cases, the primary visa will not be canceled.

    3. Best things for NRIs is, foreigners, holding X1visas (person of Indian origin, components of an Indian citizen/OCI cardholder) and X2 visas (spouse of an Indian citizen/OCI cardholder) will be allowed to avail of treatment without converting their existing visas into medical visas and without seeking permission from the concerned FRROs.

    4. As per income tax laws for NRI along with providing the much-needed medical coverage for the family, NRIs are also eligible for a tax break on taxable income earned in India. NRIs can buy health insurance in India which will cover their medical expenses within the territories of India.

    A report pointed out that in curative care, India was the preferred destination for cardiology, orthopedics, transplants, and ophthalmology. India also enjoyed high credibility in wellness, preventive, and alternative medicine.