(Reuters Health) - Medical tourism is booming as health care costs in developed countries spiral upward.
Here are five facts about the industry:
* Some 648,000 Americans will seek medical treatment abroad this year, and that number will grow by 35 percent over each of the next 3 years, according to the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. Other researchers, such as Josef Woodman, author of Patients Beyond Borders, put the number of outbound U.S. patients at 240,000 per year.
* U.S. health providers are predicted to lose as much as $67.7 billion in revenue in 2010 because of medical tourism, Deloitte says, adding that consumers can save as much as 90 percent. Mexico is the No. 1 destination for U.S. medical tourists, while Costa Rica and Panama are also big markets.
* Asia is home to the industry’s biggest names, including Dusit Medical Services, Bumrungrad and Bangkok Chain in Thailand; Parkway Holdings and Raffles Medical in Singapore; and Apollo Hospitals in India.
* U.S. insurers Wellpoint and Health Net have recently launched medical tourism pilot programs.
* The second annual congress of the Medical Tourism Association is convening in Los Angeles this week, featuring an estimated 2,000 representatives from major insurers, international hospitals, and agents who book medical trips.