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Medical Tourism Index

Medical Tourism Index

The best countries for medical tourism in 2023 

Medical tourism has increased over the last few years. From a market perspective, the revenue of medical tourism will be around $31.9 billion in 2023, a figure that is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14% over the next four years

When living in a country with a high average cost of medical treatment and prescription drugs, visiting another part of the world for a procedure can often be cheaper. But cost is not the only factor, as some patients choose to travel to access more advanced medical care or specialized treatments. With that said, which countries are the best and most popular for medical tourism?

Our experts at Universal Drugstore have analyzed the countries with the highest number of surgical procedures and searches for surgical procedures. We also looked at the cost of some of the most common medical procedures in each country. 

The best countries for medical tourism

  1. Australia
    Medical Tourism Score: 9.3/10

    Australia is the best spot for medical tourism in 2023, scoring 9.3 out of 10 across the factors we looked at. Australia ranked third amongst countries with the most surgeries per 100,000 people, as well as for searches for cosmetic and general surgeries in the last 12 months. As a developed country, Australia also has world-class healthcare, with robust research and development, making it a major location for medical tourism.

  2. Germany
    Medical Tourism Score: 8.8/10

    Taking second place is Germany, which scored 8.8 out of 10 and is widely known as one of the best countries in the world for healthcare. Germany ranked fourth for countries with the most surgeries performed per 100,000 people and in the top five for searches for general and cosmetic surgeries.

  3. Canada
    Medical Tourism Score: 8.5/10

    Finishing the top three we have Canada, scoring 8.5 out of 10 for medical tourism. Canada ranked in the top 12 for the most surgical procedures per 100,000 people and second for the most general and cosmetic surgeries searches. Canada has been establishing itself as a medical tourism hotspot for a few years, with developments in specialist fields, most notably cosmetic surgery.

The countries with the most surgical procedures

  1. Austria
    Number of Surgical Procedures per 100,000: 3,222

    Austria takes the number one spot for countries with the most surgical procedures performed per 100,000 people. Austria is known for having an exceptional healthcare system, with various treatments that patients may deem worthy to travel for, such as orthopaedics, cardiovascular care and fertility treatment.

  2. Belgium
    Number of Surgical Procedures per 100,000: 3,218

    Belgium comes in second place, with 3,218 surgeries per 100,000 people. Like most European countries, Belgium offers high-quality healthcare, and with diverse languages spoken, communication with your doctor should be easy.

  3. Australia
    Number of Surgical Procedures per 100,000: 3,121 

    Australia, having already ranked first overall, comes in third for countries with the most surgical procedures performed per 100,000 of the population. 

The most popular countries for general surgery

  1. United Kingdom
    General Surgery Google Searches: 1,230,900 

    The United Kingdom comes in third place, with over 1.2 million Google searches for general surgical procedures, including appendectomy and mastectomy, in the last 12 months. The UK isn’t as much of a medical tourism hotspot as countries such as Thailand, Turkey or India due to the higher costs, but healthcare quality is generally higher.

  2. Canada
    General Surgery Google Searches: 718,000 

    Canada has the second most searches for general surgery procedures, like cholecystectomy, over the last 12 months, with 718,000. Canada has been establishing itself as a reputable location for medical tourism over recent years, offering a healthcare system that ranks amongst the best in the world and prices lower than some other developed countries.

  3. Australia
    General Surgery Google Searches: 636,500 

    Australia rounds out the top three, with 636,500 searches for general surgery procedures, including colostomy and mastectomy, in the last 12 months. As previously stated, Australia also has one of the best healthcare systems in the world and, as such, is becoming quite a hub for medical tourists.

The most popular countries for cosmetic surgery

  1. United Kingdom 
    Cosmetic Surgery Google Searches: 1,357,400 

    In first place again, we have the United Kingdom, with over 1.3 million Google searches for cosmetic surgeries, including hair transplant and liposuction. Like the United States, the United Kingdom offers world-class treatment. Despite the NHS being free to residents, the majority of procedures, especially cosmetic, would be done through private healthcare. As such, there are higher costs in the UK than in countries such as India and Turkey.

  2. Canada
    Cosmetic Surgery Google Searches: 602,700 

    Canada ranks second for the number of searches for cosmetic surgeries in the last 12 months, with a total of 602,700. In recent years, Canada has seen much growth and development in cosmetic surgery treatments, from facelifts to liposuction.

  3. Australia
    Cosmetic Surgery Google Searches: 452,100 

    And once again, rounding out the top three, we have Australia, with 452,100 searches for cosmetic surgical procedures, like tummy tuck and rhinoplasty, in the last 12 months. Australia is quite well known for its cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, as well as its dental treatments.

The countries with the cheapest cost of surgery

  1. Ukraine
    Average Surgical Procedure Price: $2,393 

    Before the conflict in Ukraine, the Eastern European country was the cheapest country for surgical procedures, with an average cost of $2,393. Ukraine was the most affordable country for both hysterectomies and liposuction, costing just $270 for the latter and $2,000 for the former.

  2. Turkey
    Average Surgical Procedure Prices: $3,461 

    Turkey takes second place, with an average cost of $3,461 based on quotes from 2021. It was the second cheapest country for hysterectomies, costing just $2,700, almost half of the $5,200 patients could expect to pay in the US. Turkey’s prices and location, between Asia and Europe, make it a massive medical tourist hotspot.

  3. Jordan
    Average Surgical Procedure Prices: $3,635 

    Rounding out the top three, we have Jordan, where surgical procedures, on average, cost around $3,635. The Middle Eastern country was ranked fourth for rhinoplasty costs, at just $3,250, and tummy tucks, costing just $4,230.

How to stay safe when considering surgery abroad 

  1. Have a travel health risk assessment before traveling 

    You should schedule a health risk assessment around six to eight weeks before you travel, to plan ahead for vaccines or other medical treatments depending on where you are heading to. Additionally, depending on your condition, airlines might refuse boarding if there is a risk that your health may deteriorate during the flight. Your insurance company will also need to be made aware of your procedures, and willing to provide the necessary cover.

  2. Be wary of language barriers

    You should also consider that when traveling to another country for surgical procedures, your doctor or surgeon may speak a different language than you. As such, you may not be able to discuss the procedure and any concerns you may have with them. That’s why it’s best to have a surgeon who speaks the same language or talk to your physician before traveling.

  3. Plan sufficient leave from work 

    Depending on your surgery or procedure, there will likely be a period of recovery where you may not be well enough to go about your day as usual. Additionally, you shouldn’t rush to get back home, as flying may make you unwell and most airlines may not allow you to fly until you’ve recovered. When booking leave from work, you should factor this in and book extra days off for healing and the journey home.

Methodology -

We compiled a seed list of countries well-known for medical tourism using Medical Tourism Review and Medical Tourism Magazine.

We then researched the total number of surgeries using OECD.stat - Surgical Procedures, taking the number of all surgical procedures per 100,000 for the most recent year that data was available, which was 2021, except for the following countries: Australia, New Zealand and Japan, where the most recent data was from 2020. Countries without recently available data were excluded.

We then made a seed list of common general and cosmetic surgeries, using John Hopkins Medicine’s “Common Surgical Procedures” and “Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Overview”. From here, we used Google Keyword Planner to determine the top five most searched general and cosmetic procedures globally. We then researched which countries had searched for these procedures the most between September 2022 and August 2023, adding up the searches for the five individual procedures to get a total for both general and cosmetic surgeries. 

We then scored each country out of 10 based on how they performed on the above factors using a percent rank scoring system.

For the prices of medical procedures, we looked at ten countries using Medical Tourism and Health Tourism. For Turkey; both sources provided quotes from 2019. We looked at the four most searched procedures from the previous section, then calculated the average cost across the four procedures and ranked the countries on that figure. South Korea was removed from the data due to a lack of data on liposuction and tummy tucks. 

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