West Australians are increasingly seeking cut-price treatment in Asia. Restored Beauty Getaways
, a Perth-based medical tourism agency takes up to 50 people a month to Thailand for a range of cosmetic surgery procedures, the most popular being breast augmentation, breast lifts, tummy tucks, facelifts and liposuction. Dental work, lasik eye surgery, Botox, and teeth bleaching are also popular. Favourable exchange rates, lower labour costs and lower running costs mean that these medical procedures can be offered at prices well below those available in Australia. Travel agency Travel.com.au
sends Australians seeking medical procedures to Thailand, India, Malaysia, the Philippines and South Africa.
While cost drives Australian outbound medical tourism, Indonesians are driven overseas by the poor quality and unavailability of local healthcare. Many Indonesians travel to Malaysia or Singapore as they feel that hospitals in those two countries offer a higher quality of care, better standard of service and better prices than the best hospitals in Indonesia. Seeking medical treatment abroad has become a common practice for Indonesians who live in Sumatra; treatment in Penang or Malaka is a convenient option. Richer patients from Jakarta can travel to Singapore for treatment. Indonesians spend about US$11.5 billion a year for healthcare abroad, according to the Health Ministry.
Malaysia and Singapore are quite close, while competitive hospital fees in Malaysia have attracted more and more Indonesians. According to a report by Frost and Sullivan, Malaysian hospitals treated 288,000 Indonesian patients in 2008 and Singaporean hospitals treated 226,200 Indonesians in 2007. Major private hospitals in Malaysia and Singapore have special referral systems and international customer departments that specifically cater to the needs of international patients.
Indonesia plans to improve local healthcare. Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih claims that Indonesia will soon have world-class public health care services as the government is now preparing three public hospitals to pursue full accredited status from Joint Commission International (JCI), a global accrediting agency, “They are ready to attain world-class status to enter the international competition arena.” Three Indonesian private hospitals have JCI accreditation. The government plans to increase its accreditation assistance for 66 public hospitals in the eastern part of Indonesia.