Medical Tourism Services Available to Residents of the United States
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
There are growing reports of United States (US) residents traveling overseas for medical care, but empirical data about medical tourism are limited.
To characterize the businesses and business practices of entities promoting medical tourism and the types and costs of procedures being offered.
DESIGN, PARTICIPANTS, AND OUTCOMES
Between June and August 2008, we conducted a telephone survey of all businesses engaged in facilitating overseas medical travel for US residents. We collected information from each company including: the number of employees; number of patients referred overseas; medical records security processes; destinations to which patients were referred; treatments offered; treatment costs; and whether patient outcomes were collected.
We identified 63 medical tourism companies and 45 completed our survey (71%). Companies had a mean of 9.8 employees and had referred an average of 285 patients overseas (a total of approximately 13,500 patients). 35 (79%) companies reported requiring accreditation of foreign providers, 22 (50%) collected patient outcome data, but only 17 (39%) described formal medical records security policies. The most common destinations were India (23 companies, 55%), Costa Rica (14, 33%), and Thailand (12, 29%). The most common types of care included orthopedics (32 companies, 73%), cardiac care (23, 52%), and cosmetic surgery (29, 66%). 20 companies (44%) offered treatments not approved for use in the US – most commonly stem cell therapy. Average costs for common procedures, CABG ($18,600) and knee arthroplasty ($10,800), were similar to previous reports.
The number of Americans traveling overseas for medical care with assistance from medical tourism companies is relatively small. Attention to medical records security and patient outcomes is variable and cost-savings are dependent on US prices. That said, overseas medical care can be a reasonable alternative for price sensitive patients in need of relatively common, elective medical procedures.
- Grumbach, K, Anderson, GM, Luft, HS, Roos, LL, Brook, R (1995) Regionalization of cardiac surgery in the United States and Canada. Geographic access, choice, and outcomes. JAMA 274: pp. 1282-8 CrossRef
- Holt, PJ, Poloniecki, JD, Hinchliffe, RJ, Loftus, IM, Thompson, MM (2008) Model for the reconfiguration of specialized vascular services. Br J Surg 95: pp. 1469-74 CrossRef
- Landrum, MB, Guadagnoli, E, Zummo, R, Chin, D, McNeil, BJ (2004) Care following acute myocardial infarction in the Veterans Administration Medical Centers: a comparison with Medicare. Health Serv Res 39: pp. 1773-92 CrossRef
- Brown, HS (2001) Income, location, and the demand for health care from public, nonprofit, and for-profit hospitals. J Health Care Finance 27: pp. 24-38
- Moore, JD (1997) Medical mecca. Foreign patients flock to Miami seeking care and service. Mod Healthc 27: pp. 30-7
- Ornstein C, Glionna JM. After livers, cash to UCLA. Los Angeles Times 2008 May 31.
- Saudi royals spend $1.5 million during Minnesota visit. In: Denver Post Wire Report; 2008.
- Horowitz MD, Rosensweig JA. Medical tourism vs. traditional international medical travel: a tale of two models. International Medical Travel Journal. 2008;1-14.
- Konrad W. Going abroad to find affordable healthcare. The New York Times 2009 March 20;Sect. 6.
- Rotenberk, L (2008) Medical tourism. As the world flattens, US hospitals expand their global reach. Hosp Health Netw 82: pp. 14
- Bauer, JC (2009) Medical tourism: wave of the future in a world of hurt?. Healthc Financ Manage 63: pp. 36-8
- Horowitz, MD, Rosensweig, JA (2007) Medical tourism–health care in the global economy. Physician Exec 33: pp. 8-30
- The Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 2008;3:1227-31.
- American Medical Association. New AMA guidelines on medical tourism; 2009.
- Canales, MT, Kasiske, BL, Rosenberg, ME (2006) Transplant tourism: Outcomes of United States residents who undergo kidney transplantation overseas. Transplantation 82: pp. 1658-61 CrossRef
- Jafary, FH, Ahmed, H, Kiani, J (2007) Outcomes of primary percutaneous coronary intervention at a joint commission international accredited hospital in a developing country – can good results, possibly similar to the west, be achieved?. J Invasive Cardiol 19: pp. 417-23
- Horowitz, MD, Rosensweig, JA, Jones, CA (2007) Medical tourism: globalization of the healthcare marketplace. Medscape General Medicine 9: pp. 33
- Horowitz, MD, Rosenweig, JA (2007) Medical tourism – health care in the global economy. Physician Exec 33: pp. 24
- Milstein, A, Smith, M (2006) America’s new refugees–seeking affordable surgery offshore. N Engl J Med 355: pp. 1637-40 CrossRef
- Deloitte Consulting Inc. Medical tourism: update and implications- 2009 report; 2009.
- Francis T. Medical tourism is still small. The Wall Street Journal 2008 May 6.
- Milstein, A, Smith, M (2007) Will the surgical world become flat?. Health Aff (Millwood) 26: pp. 137-41 CrossRef
- Melnick, GA, Fonkych, K (2008) Hospital pricing and the uninsured: do the uninsured pay higher prices?. Health Aff 27: pp. w116-22 CrossRef
- Ginsburg, P (2007) Shopping for price in medical care. Health Aff (Millwood) 26: pp. w208 CrossRef
- Alderman, L (2009) Bargaining down the medical bills. NY Times 14: pp. 2009
- Jones, JW, McCullough, LB (2007) What to do when a patient’s international medical care goes south. J Vasc Surg 46: pp. 1077-9 CrossRef
- Barclay, E (2009) Stem-cell experts raise concerns about medical tourism. Lancet 373: pp. 883-4 CrossRef
- MacReady, N (2009) The murky ethics of stem-cell tourism. Lancet Oncol 10: pp. 317-8 CrossRef
- Medical Tourism Services Available to Residents of the United States
Journal of General Internal Medicine
Volume 26, Issue 5 , pp 492-497
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Additional Links
- medical tourism
- elective surgery
- Industry Sectors
- Author Affiliations
- 1. University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA, USA
- 6. University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, 500 Newton Rd, 2182 Medical Laboratories, Iowa City, IA, 52242, USA
- 2. Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA
- 3. Iowa City Veterans Administration Medical Center, Iowa City, IA, USA
- 4. Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA, USA
- 5. Medical Insights International, Lebanon, GA, USA