A landmark decision now enables foreigners to get medical attention in India in a hassle free manner without medical visa.

The Government of India announced in August 2019 that people visiting India can now get treatment anywhere in the country without obtaining a medical visa. The rule will not be applicable in case of organ transplant for which medical visa is still a prerequisite.

The Indian government said in a statement that indoor treatment may now be taken on primary (original) visa for pre-existing diseases, which the foreigner may have been suffering from even before his or her entry into India and for ailments that were in his or her knowledge.

The decision was taken as some foreigners who are already in India on valid visas, were facing difficulties in getting medical attention when they fall sick during their stay.

They were being advised by some hospitals or medical centres to get their visas converted into medical visas before getting admitted, the statement said.

The Home Ministry said a foreigner suffering from a minor medical condition, which needs only outpatient consultation or treatment, may take treatment at any hospital or treatment centre on his or her primary visa.

“Now, the government of India has further liberalised the medical visa regime and permitted foreigners to get the indoor treatment on their primary (original) visa even for pre-existing diseases (except in cases of organ transplant), which the foreigner may have been suffering from even before his or her entry into India,” it said

This announcement on medical visa requirement by the Indian Government comes as the medical tourism sector grows there.

In October 2015, India’s medical tourism sector was estimated to be worth US$3 billion. It is projected to grow at a CAGR of 200% by 2020, hitting $9 billion by 2020. In 2017, 495,056 patients visited India to seek medical care. The promotion of Medical Tourism in India has helped private players capitalize on this market opportunity.

Advantages of medical treatment in India include reduced costs, the availability of latest medical technologies, and a growing compliance on international quality standards, doctors trained in western countries including the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as English-speaking personnel, due to which foreigners are less likely to face language barrier in India.

The Indian city of Chennai especially, has been termed “India’s health capital”. Multi- and super-specialty hospitals across the city bring in an estimated 150 international patients every day. Chennai attracts about 45 percent of health tourists from abroad arriving in the country and 30 to 40 percent of domestic health tourists.

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