Medical Tourism in Germany Experiences Sharp Decline

Medical tourism, which has been on the rise in Germany, along with the United States, Turkey, Thailand and South Korea, has witnessed decreasing numbers in recent years.

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About 65,000 foreigners from 177 different countries came to Germany to receive medical assistance in 2020, with most guests coming from Poland, the Netherlands, Russia, Ukraine and South Arabia, reports.

As Deutsche Welle reports, the number of visitors has dropped significantly in the last few years, with fewer Russian nationals visiting Germany for such services. In 2020, the number of such patients from Russia decreased by more than 30 per cent. On the other, there was a rise in patients from EU states and Arabic countries.

Furthermore, over 1,000 international patients were treated at University Clinic Freiburg, with this number dropping to 800 in 2021 – with most of these individuals coming from Ukraine and Russia.

Several German hospitals had already witnessed the drop in medical tourism before COVID-19 hit the world. A spokesperson for the University Hospital of Dusseldorf said for DW that his clinic had stopped targeting international patients years ago, pointing out that the generated revenue was no longer important for the hospital.

A similar trend was noticed with Berlin’s Vivantes hospital group, which shut its Vivantes International Medicine unit, which targeted foreign patients years ago. That was due to falling demand, which they said made the unit no longer financially viable.

In 2020, almost 1,000 non-EU citizens were treated there, down from 1,200 per year from 2016 to 2019. Drop in medical tourism isn’t known whether it will rebound in post-pandemic times or how the war in Ukraine will develop.

“I support medical tourism, including in Germany, especially in these globalised times,” Asefi nevertheless remains optimistic, told DW.

According to Consultancy-me, the medical tourism market reached a value of €105 billion in 2019, while in 2020 this increased to €180 billion in 2020. Data also shows that the United Kingdom and the United States are the leading developing countries to receive medical treatments, indicating that both Britons and Americans are turning to health tourism.

During the pandemic, however, the interest in medical tourism dropped slightly. In 2021, the medical tourism market was valued at €82 billion, while in the following year, a study forecasted that it would reach the value of €97 billion.

In the upcoming years, such as 2023, 2024 and 2025, the value of medical tourism is expected to skyrocket, reaching €120 billion in the first year with over 27 million people seeking such treatments.