Globalization and Medical Care
Health services are now advertised in a global marketplace. Hip andknee replacements, ophthalmologic procedures, cosmetic surgery, cardiaccare, organ transplants, and stem cell injections are all available for purchasein the global health services marketplace. “Medical tourism” companiesmarket “sun and surgery” packages and arrange care at internationalhospitals in Costa Rica, India, Mexico, Singapore, Thailand, and other destination nations. Just as automobile manufacturing and textile productionmoved outside the United States, American patients are “offshoring” them-selves to facilities that use low labor costs to gain competitive advantagein the marketplace. Proponents of medical tourism argue that a globalmarket in health services will promote consumer choice, foster competi-tion among hospitals, and enable customers to purchase high-quality careat medical facilities around the world. Skeptics raise concerns aboutquality of care and patient safety, information disclosure to patients, legalredress when patients are harmed while receiving care at internationalhospitals, and harms to public health care systems in destination nations.The emergence of a global market in health services will have profoundconsequences for health insurance, delivery of health services, patient- physician relationships, publicly funded health care, and the spread of medical consumerism.
Medical brokerages and international hospitals marketing “medical tourism” packages first attracted customers by selling inexpensive face lifts, tummy
International Journal of Health Services, Volume 40, Number 3, Pages 443–467, 2010© 2010, Baywood Publishing Co., Inc.doi: 10.2190/HS.40.3.dhttp://baywood.com