More patients seeking foreign healthcare services

Medical tourism is set to become one of the hottest niches in both global medicine and travel in the coming decades, says the Houston Chronicle.

According to analysts:

  • More than 1 million patients worldwide, including at least 150,000 Americans, crossed international borders for health care last year and spent $60 billion in the process.

  • Thailand alone treats 500,000 foreigners each year, including more than 50,000 Americans.

  • A recent study by the University of Texas Medical Center in El Paso estimated that more than 20 million U.S.-Mexico border crossings are made for health care annually.

    Americans seeking cheap medicines, dental care, cancer treatments and cosmetic surgeries have found them in Mexico, says the Chronicle. But in recent years, many international health travellers have favoured top-shelf hospitals in Asia for coronary care and orthopaedic surgery as good as, but far cheaper than what they could receive at home.

    The Internet has proven key to the growing medical tourism trend, with Web pages dedicated to the emerging industries and health travel brokers offering their services online, says the Chronicle. Reviews of hospitals by patients and analysts offer a balance to the self-promotion of the health care providers, say experts.

    Source: Dudley Althaus, More Americans seeking foreign health care services, Houston Chronicle, September 3, 2007.

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    For more on Health Issues:

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 11 September 2007
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