A Medical Vacation in Eastern Europe: Opportunities & Hurdles

Can International Insurance Help the Medical Vacation Industry in Europe?

The European Union (EU) is encouraging the medical vacation trend by creating opportunities for international private medical insurance (PMI) providers. Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic were inducted into the EU in 2004, but the private medical insurance market did not witness the tremendous growth that was expected. Now that Bulgaria and Romania have joined the EU, the potential for increased sales of PMI is expected to grow. Experts agree that Poland, Bulgaria, the Baltic States, and Hungary have shown substantial growth in the medical vacation business, both in the private as well as corporate sector. Promotional campaigns advertising medical tourism packages, medical vacation options and luxury travel vacations in EU member countries are being aired on television. All these factors are directly contributing to the growth in the PMI market, medical tourism packages, and the luxury travel vacation industries in EU member countries. The upsurge of the individual PMI market as seen in the EU member countries is, however, not present in China, Russia, and the Middle East. Few insurance companies are investing in marketing drives and prefer to rely on referrals from existing clients and word of mouth.

Medical Vacation Concerns of Eastern EU Countries

There are excellent opportunities for the luxury travel vacation sector in EU member countries. But the Eastern EU market is quite different in terms of healthcare and individual expectations than the rest of Europe. The PMI providers are generally based out of capital cities or in established areas, but there are major concerns regarding clinical infrastructure and access to healthcare.

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Overcoming the Hurdles Facing Medical Tourism Packages

The EU is trying to overcome the difficulties in the medical vacation sector by introducing the Third Non-Life Insurance Directive, a single authorization system that allows the PMI providers having head offices in a member country to open branches and conduct business in other member countries under the supervision of the head office. But there are still some potential legal hurdles. Providing international health cover for expatriates of one EU country in new EU economies can be problematic due to licensing protocols. But experts say there is a way to avoid this. Instead of brokers selling medical insurance policies, an individual can apply directly to the insurance company and get covered easily. In a global economy, selling insurance internationally is not logistically challenging as all formalities can be taken care of over the telephone and internet.

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