Los Angeles Times Examines Medical Tourism

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Medical Tourism

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The Los Angeles Timeson Monday examined medical tourism, a practice in which U.S. residentstravel to other nations -- such as Costa Rica, India, Malaysia, Mexico,Singapore and Thailand -- to obtain lower-cost, high-quality healthcare services. About 150,000 U.S. residents annually participate inmedical tourism, an industry that has increased by 15% to 20% annuallyin recent years. According to the Times, the "quality ofcare in top hospitals [abroad] is said to beat most American hospitals,while providing savings of 30% to 80%."

Arnold Milstein, chief physician for the consulting company Mercer Health & Benefits,said that, in 10 to 15 years, "the best offshore hospitals willroutinely be included in networks offered to insured Americans." JosefWoodman, author of a book on medical tourism titled "Patients BeyondBorders," said that hospitals in other nations often are "not just asnice as American hospitals -- they're three times as nice." PatrickMarsek -- managing director of MedRetreat,which facilitates medical tourism -- said, "Many people just can'tafford the procedures here in the U.S., and the value overseas is somuch greater."

However, medical tourism is not a "worry-freeventure," with concerns about the "training of foreign doctors," the"conditions of far-flung facilities," the "legal limbo should somethinggo awry" and the "wisdom of getting on long-haul flights after majorsurgery," the Times reports (Taylor, Los Angeles Times, 7/2).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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