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Medical Tourism - Destination - Russia

General Informations

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Russian medical tourists traditionally travel to Israel and Germany, accounting for 45% and 20% of patients respectively. Currently, other destinations, such as Turkey, Singapore, Switzerland, France and Eastern European countries are experiencing an increase in popularity. The treatment most sought after by Russians include cardio surgery, organ transplantation, eye surgery, oncology and other chronic diseases that require advanced medical equipment and specialised after care. The most important reasons why Russian patients opt for treatment abroad are higher quality, availability of treatment and language skills, as Russians often do not speak foreign languages. In general, they do not seek cost savings since only the wealthy citizens can afford to go abroad. As the quality of health care outside of Russia is regarded as higher, it is prestigious for patients to undergo treatment abroad. Overall, the country represents a smaller outbound stream as only around 1% of the population is currently opting for medical tourism but has large potential to become a major player in the outbound medical tourism market.

Russia
Location northern Eurasia; borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea
Capital Moscow
Biggest cities (population) Moscow (10,382,754), Saint Petersburg (4,661,219), Novosibirsk (1,425,508)
Inhabitants 142,008,838
Politics federal semi-presidential republic
Religion Orthodox Christianity (63%), Islam (6%), atheism (16%), other (15%)Orthodox Christianity (63%), Islam (6%), atheism (16%), other (15%)
Currency Ruble (RUB) = € 0.023170
GDP € 1,120,043 million, 2.8% of the world’s GDP
Official language(s) Russian
Climate continental, sub-arctic, polar, subtropical, semi-arid. Average temperatures vary significantly per region, from -40°C in winter to 27°C in summer
Time zone from GMT +2 to GMT +12, summer time from GMT +3 to GMT +13
Happy Planet Index (HPI) 108

Cultural Aspects

General Culture

Russian culture has a rich history and a long tradition, especially in relation to the arts. Due to its communist past, Russian society is considered to be still more closed and intolerant to different views compared to Western countries. This can be seen especially in smaller cities. English and other European languages are spoken mainly by the young generation living in big cities.

Russian cuisine is diverse and has been influenced by numerous nationalities living in the country. Typical Russian dishes include salad of beetroot and herring and pelmeni, a national version of Chinese dumplings.

Safety

Russia ranks 136 on the GPI, which makes it an unsafe country. Recent terrorist attacks and the war in Chechnya have had a bad influence on the reputation of safety in the country. The crime rate in Russia is also rather high in comparison with developed Western countries.

Infrastructure

There are more than 70 international airports situated throughout the country with three of them in Moscow. International railway connections include trains to neighbouring countries, such as Finland, Georgia or China.

Health Care System

WHO ranking 130
Physicians per 10,000 population 49.8 (2007)
Nurses per 10,000 population 109.0 (2007)
GDP spent on health care 5.6% (2004)
Education period of doctors 6 years
Education period of specialists additional up to 3 years

Health Care Providers

In 2007, there were 68,000 public hospitals providing 15,221,000 beds and 183,000 polyclinics in Russia. Private health facilities are only available for elective treatment as necessary medicine is controlled and regulated by the state. The number of private health care facilities is insignificant as only 3 to 5% of population can afford private health services.

Despite the large number of hospitals and medical personnel, an acceptable level of health care services is not provided. This is mainly due to a continued lack of funds, outdated medical and technical equipment and supplies, extremely underpaid medical staff and the ineffective organisation of health care services. In addition, distribution of health care delivery is uneven throughout the country with up-to-date services available only in big cities in more economically developed regions. This has resulted in health care being the most corrupt sector and absorbing the highest proportion of bribes in Russia (€ 400 million in 2000).

Insurance

Universal health coverage is available to all citizens and long-term residents. This allows every citizen to receive complimentary medical help in public health care facilities. Although there are more than 300 private insurers, the percentage of privately insured population is around 5%, which only applies to those who can afford it and to employees of some large corporations.

Reforms/Policies

In 2006, the Russian government launched a national project that aims to improve four sectors of Russian life, one being health care. It approved an additional € 2.14 billion in spending on health care to cover salary increases for doctors and nurses, the purchase of new equipment for clinics and the construction of eight high-tech medical centres in Russia’s outlying regions. However, operational problems and fraud have led to incomplete implementation of the plan in all of the territories.

General Medical Tourism Information

In 2008, 36,537,521 Russian tourists went abroad. Medical tourism is a developing trend for Russians and at this moment is only affordable for the up-scale population. In 2006, only around 15,000 patients went abroad for medical treatment and 10 to 15% of the population visits foreign balneological resorts annually.

Facilitators/Cooperation

There is a considerable number of medical tourism agencies operating in Russia offering medical packages and assisting patients with visa procedures and handling all paperwork, translator services and other necessary arrangements. There are also foreign-based medical facilitators aiming at Russian patients who promote their services via internet or Russian clinics or doctors, who get a certain commission on each patient they send abroad. However, the patients can also be directed to go abroad due to the degree of the disease and non-availability of the necessary technology in Russia. There are also a number of charity organisations that send ill children abroad for treatment.

Flows

Traditionally Israel with 45% of Russian medical tourists and Germany with 20% have been the most visited medical tourism destinations113. At present, other destinations, such as Turkey, Singapore, Switzerland, France and Eastern European countries are growing in popularity. The most common medical treatments Russians go for include cardio surgery, organ transplantation, eye surgery, oncology and other chronic diseases that require hightech medical equipment and sophisticated after care procedures.

Reasons

  • Quality: medical care abroad is considered to be prestigious, high quality, more organised and trustworthy.
  • Availability: Lack of medical technologies necessary for treating some diseases as well as a shortage of organ donors motivate outbound medical tourism.
  • Language skills: Russians tend to opt for countries where medical personnel speak their language as they often do not speak foreign languages.

Conclusion

Russians tend not to seek cost savings like other outbound flows, as it is only the richer residents who can afford to go abroad. Undergoing medical treatment abroad is seen as prestigious as the quality outside of Russia is perceived to be higher. This is due to Russia lacking the newest technologies, having a lack of organ donors and the health care system not functioning properly. Russia, in general, has a small outbound flow as only around 1% of the population is currently opting for medical tourism 115. Russia has the largest potential to become a major outbound market due to the low quality and availability of health care within the country.

Price Chart (in €uro)

Treatment Average Price
Cardiac bypass 4,634
Gastric bypass 116
Knee replacement 649
Hip replacement 686
Hip resurfacing N/A
Botox treatment 12
Breast augmentation 2,928
Facelift 2,780
Liposuction 278
Dental implants 695
Rhinoplasty 1,320
Lasik eye surgery 232

Note: All prices are estimates, and may vary widely from source to source depending on services included in the estimate (i.e. doctor’s fees, hospitalisation, administration costs or the patient’s age and medical history). Due to non-disclosure strategies of the various locations, it was not possible to make a clear separation between those factors. All prices given for the specific facilities have been provided by the hospitals/clinics themselves via email or telephone contact. The prices are given in Euros (€).

N/A means either that treatment are not available in the specific hospital, that a price estimation cannot be found or that the medical facility did not disclose the information. For the average prices, printed literature has been used before researching sources on the internet.