HBI Deals+Insights / News

Is there still fertile ground for medical tourism?

As European law homogenises and countries across the continent fall into step, does this mean an end to the once lucrative medical tourism trade enjoyed by countries with softer regulation? Perhaps surprisingly, HBI hears not completely – or at least not yet.

Click here to read more about European fertility markets in our HBI Intelligence reports, and here to see the largest players in Europe.

The fertility sector is not immune to the pressures currently being exerted on businesses across Europe – inflation, rising energy costs, and workforce, to name but three. And HBI hears the last few months have been “a little more up and down than usual”. But it is more resilient.

Historically, groups in certain countries have been able to rely on medical tourism to keep them well into the black. But times are changing. In the summer of 2021, the French parliament voted to extend IVF rights to lesbians and single women. Previously only heterosexual couples could receive treatment, which led to an exodus of patients seeking IVF using donor sperm abroad.

Ireland, too, is falling in step with other European countries. Having tackled the passionately debated issue of abortion and out-waited Covid, publicly-funded fertility services are coming to the country for the first time, after proposals first drafted way back in 2017 were resurrected. Deals + Insights members can read more about this elsewhere in this week’s news.

Traditional routes, like those into Spain, have suffered following the pandemic. While Spain has seen a surge in domestic demand, the tourist market has been much slower to recover.

But there are other routes opening up due to international demand. Take Denmark, where Australia-based Virtus Health is set to open another clinic. If you have a country with a liberalised regulatory framework, a good standard of care, and high levels of English fluency – and you can get the price right – you will still see medical tourists.

Throw in a USP – say legalised double donation (fertility treatment using both an egg and a sperm donor) and there are still huge markets (abroad) to tap into. At least for now.

We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to David Farbrother or call 0207 183 3779.