The number of foreign patients being treated in Germany has fallen sharply during the corona pandemic.

According to surveys by the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, 65,586 medical tourists from abroad received in-patient treatment in Germany in 2020.

This corresponds to a decline of almost 34 percent compared to the previous year.

In 2019, the number was still a good 97,300, as the university announced on Thursday.

The number of outpatient treatments fell from an estimated 145,000 to around 97,000.

As a result, the corresponding sales in the German healthcare system fell significantly.

In 2019, income from foreign patients amounted to around 1.2 billion euros.

In 2020 it was only around 800 million euros.

"The main reason for the decline is the corona pandemic with its severe entry restrictions," explains Mariam Asefi, who took over the medical tourism research department at the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences.

Patients come mainly from the East

In the decade before the pandemic, the majority of foreign patients from Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan came to Germany for medical treatment.

This market grew steadily.

According to the study, the number of inpatient medical tourists from these three countries of origin fell by half in the pandemic year 2020 compared to the previous year (Russia minus 62, Ukraine minus 24, Kazakhstan minus 32 percent).

Asefi assumes that the number will continue to decrease due to the war in Ukraine.

"However, it is difficult to predict how severe the decline will be in the long term," she says.

“Russian patients continue to come to Germany for complex medical treatments.

However, the effort and organization have become much more complicated.” The university's study is based on its own surveys and data from the Federal Statistical Office.

These are only available with a delay of around one and a half years.

Detailed figures for 2021 and 2022 are therefore not yet available.

A total of 2020 patients from 177 countries traveled to Germany for medical treatment.

In addition to Russia (more than 2,000), Ukraine (around 1,400) and Kazakhstan (more than 240), many medical tourists also came from Saudi Arabia (almost 500).

From countries of the European Union, people from Poland (more than 10,400 inpatient admissions in 2020) and the Netherlands (more than 5,800) visited German clinics most frequently.

Strong motivations for treatment in Germany are, for example, a lack of treatment options in the home country or the good quality of the German health system, it is said.

In addition to the pandemic, other reasons for the reduced number of patients are the oil price development, currency stability and real wage developments.