"Medical tourism" and the global marketplace in health services: U.S. patients, international hospitals, and the search for affordable health care

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63 Scopus citations

Abstract

Health services are now advertised in a global marketplace. Hip and knee replacements, ophthalmologic procedures, cosmetic surgery, cardiac care, organ transplants, and stem cell injections are all available for purchase in the global health services marketplace. "Medical tourism" companies market "sun and surgery" packages and arrange care at international hospitals in Costa Rica, India, Mexico, Singapore, Thailand, and other destination nations. Just as automobile manufacturing and textile production moved outside the United States, American patients are "offshoring" themselves to facilities that use low labor costs to gain competitive advantage in the marketplace. Proponents of medical tourism argue that a global market in health services will promote consumer choice, foster competition among hospitals, and enable customers to purchase high-quality care at medical facilities around the world. Skeptics raise concerns about quality of care and patient safety, information disclosure to patients, legal redress when patients are harmed while receiving care at international hospitals, and harms to public health care systems in destination nations. The emergence of a global market in health services will have profound consequences for health insurance, delivery of health services, patient-physician relationships, publicly funded health care, and the spread of medical consumerism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-467
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Health Services
Volume40
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

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