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Document Abstract
Published: 2006

Patients without borders: the emergence of medical tourism

Impact of medical tourism on health services for local populations
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This article published by the Public Citizen Health Research Group, is the first in a two part series that focuses on medical tourism – travelling with the express purpose of obtaining health services abroad. The article describes a trend, where large numbers of patients from wealthy countries, such as America, are travelling abroad to diverse countries including India, Brazil, the Philippines and Thailand in search of less expensive health care. The article uses examples of India and Thailand to examine the implications of medical tourism in these countries.

It shows that in both countries medical tourism has caused private hospitals to emphasise treatment over prevention, and promote technology-intensive tertiary services at the expense of primary care. This has created distortions in the allocation of resources and spending that doesn’t match the needs of local people. The article concludes that the international market in health care can have adverse effects on host countries, in particular, medical tourism can create health inequalities between those who can and those who cannot afford to pay for care.
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S. M. Wolfe

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