Medical Tourism Reversing Course

In January, the U.S. supermarket chain Hannaford Bros. Co. began offering its employees hip and knee replacements at a hospital in Singapore.  Such "medical tourism" is attractive because it offers an upfront price, a package price and a low price.  A hip replacement, for example, costs $9,000 in Singapore compared with $43,000 in the United States.

Less well known is reverse medical tourism, where U.S. hospitals offer upfront, package prices to foreigners who come to this country for medical care.  Hospitals who compete in this market often offer foreigners prices and packages they will not offer to American patients!

Now, however, a new phenomenon is emerging: medical tourism within U.S. borders.  Turns out, you too can have price transparency – if you're willing to travel.

For example, soon after Hannaford, which is headquartered in Scarborough, Maine, negotiated its deal in Singapore, several U.S. hospitals offered to match the Singapore prices.  Currently, the company has a contract with a Boston hospital for hip, knee and spine surgery, according to a Victoria Knight article in the Wall Street Journal

Moreover, a new company, Healthplace America, has been formed to facilitate within-country medical tourism.  It offers price and quality transparency for a network of 15 hospitals.  Savings are typically 30% to 50% off of what patients and their insurer/employer would otherwise pay.

Note: all this is happening without any HHS coaxing, cajoling, prodding, pleading, moaning, groaning or begging.  Just markets at work.

Comments (12)

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  1. Joe S. says:

    So hospitals are able to do what they have always told us that they cannot do — give patients a package price.

    I appears all that is needed is a little competition.

  2. […] National Center for Policy Analysis has written a good bit about medical tourism, the U.S. hospital reaction to medical tourism, and those shopping for health care. Here is the latest on medical tourism from Forbes.  […]

  3. Bob Riebe says:

    Mr Goodman,
    My research into medical tourism thus far has only highlighted hospitals with no attention or thought given to the small sole practionter who, as in this case, happens to be a Dentist. Any ideas how to go about attracting potential dental patients without an advertising budget or staff that could compete with hospitals for business?

  4. […] interesting example of a local company that secured a deal overseas; quoted from John Goodman’s NCPA blog: “The U.S. supermarket chain Hannaford Bros. Co. began offering its employees hip and knee […]

  5. Sally McCollum says:

    After the hospital matches the Singapore price for that one group, do they jack up their prices for everyone else to make up for it? That would seem par for the course.

  6. bali says:

    indonesia is one of place tourism in the world. good tourism

  7. Narumol says:

    Bloggers invited to compete for prizes in Thailand’s Medical Tourism Blog Contest

    The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Medical Tourism Blog Contest kicks off with cash and prizes worth nearly US$20,000 up for grabs, including a seven-day all-inclusive medical tour of Thailand for 12 finalists.

    The competition is easy and fun, with the aim to promote medical tourism in the Kingdom by awarding winning contestants trips to the Land of Smiles and other prizes.

    Twelve finalists chosen from the entries will win an experience of a lifetime: an all-inclusive seven-day Medical Tourism Familiarization Trip in Thailand, which will take place from November 20-26, 2010. Some of them will travel to Phuket, Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Ko Samui, while others will explore Bangkok. The TAT will arrange additional sightseeing tours for finalists so they can experience the attractions of Thailand as a medical tourism hub.

    During the competition period from November 20, 2010 to January 31, 2011, each finalist will use blog posts, photos, videos and other social media tools to share their daily experiences with the medical services available in Thailand with a global audience. The goal is to inform readers about what is available and to persuade them to learn more about Thailand’s top medical tourism destinations.

    In order to win, finalists must write the best blog post and attract the highest number of unique visitors. The blogger who attracts the most unique visitors to their URL will win the top prize of $13,000 ($10,000 in cash plus luxurious hotel vouchers worth $3,000 at Sri Panwa, Phuket and Westin Grande, Bangkok), and the finalist who the judging committee decides has created the best blog will receive prizes worth $5,000 ($3,000 in cash plus luxurious hotel vouchers worth $2,000 at Ratilanna Riverside Spa Resort, Chiang Mai and Absolute Chandara Resort and Spa, Phuket).

    The competition is open to anyone who has experience writing blogs related to tourism or medical tourism in English language or containing English language. To enter, visit:

    This is a great opportunity to discover firsthand why Thailand has become one of the world’s top destinations for medical tourism.

    Submissions are welcome until October 31, 2010. Check out

    For media enquiries, please go to the *Contact Us* page and select the subject Press Media Enquiry. A team member will contact you shortly after your submission is received.**

  8. I wonder if these hospitals are still offering medical tourism within the USA in light of the new health care bill that offers affordable medical care to all US citizens. The new bill does not cover dental treatments, only dental health awareness, therefore dental tourism to places like Mexico, Thailand etc should continue to increase. For more information on dental tourism in Asia, see the Smile Planners Dental Holidays Blog at

  9. Wajiha says:

    Mention Medical Tourism and one country, Thailand, keeps coming up. Thailand is the home of Medical Tourism with over 300,000 visiting in 2003 rising to an estimated 1.4 million in 2006. While most associate Bangkok with shining, golden temples it is the glittering medical facilities that attract the Thailand medical tourism.

  10. B Silver says:

    I would like to know where you got the 30-50% savings statistic for intrabound medical tourism. Thank you.

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  12. James says:

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