More Chinese travel abroad for medical treatment

Knowing China through Taiwan

  • Sunday, January 11, 2015
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More Chinese travel abroad for medical treatment


  • Staff Reporter
  • 2014-12-08
  • 16:07 (GMT+8)
A Saint Lucia Consulting advert. (Photo/Saint Lucia Consulting)A Saint Lucia Consulting advert. (Photo/Saint Lucia Consulting)

More and more Chinese nationals have become wealthy enough to afford medical treatment abroad, bolstering the growth of businesses catering to this emerging trend, reports Nanjing’s Yangcheng Evening News.

In China, six people are diagnosed with cancer every minute, with new cancer cases touching an annual 3.12 million, according to government data.

The five-year survival rate for cancer patients in China is around 25%, according to government data released in January, compared with 68% between 2003 and 2009 in the United States. A growing number of Chinese patients are travelling overseas in search of these higher odds, and around 70% of them are cancer patients, said the newspaper.

Massachusetts General Hospital, affiliated with Harvard Medical School, saw the number of Chinese patients jump from around 40 in 2012 to around 100 in 2013, said the report.

Along with the growing number of patients traveling abroad, several domestic businesses have sprung up to cater to the demand and help people arrange for their international medical trips, according to the newspaper.

Beijing-based Saint Lucia Consulting, established in 2011, is the first of such businesses in China. Up to 10 similar services have emerged across the country since its establishment, excluding those making arrangements for overseas cosmetic surgery, said the report.

Zhang Xiang, president of Vanta Consulting Service, the first Guangzhou company to offer arrangements for overseas medical treatment, estimates that the sector has already reached US$100 billion in scale, and is projected to grow by 20% a year.

According to Zhang, treatment abroad is not as expensive as people think. The average spending of his company’s 30+ clients so far has been around US$150,000.

Medical fees are the highest in the United States, which are usually three to four times the charges in China, while fees in Germany and the United Kingdom are just 30% higher, Zhang said.

Apart from the better quality of medical services abroad, Chinese patients also opt for overseas treatments for newer drugs that usually hit the Chinese market much later. “There are new drug trials beginning in top hospitals abroad every day. Chinese patients can see their medical bills cut by 15% to 20% if they take part in clinical trials,” Zhang said.