Medical Tourism: Smaller than Previously Thought, but Growing

The number of people traveling the globe for medical treatment is lower than commonly assumed, but there remains potential for huge growth in the industry, according to a gated study by consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

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  1. Devon Herrick says:

    The media interest in medical tourism has surged over the past couple years. This was the cover story in US News and World Report two weeks ago []. Two years ago Time magazine featured a story on “Outsourcing Your Heart.” [,9171,1196429,00.html]. Many experts think 2009 is the year when many insurers will begin sending patients abroad.

  2. Kenneth Hunt says:

    Hi John,

    There is another important aspect to medical tourism which has been overlooked and that warrants serious consideration as part of the health care reform in the U.S. Rather than it being related to the outsourcing of hospital services or competition with U.S. providers it should perhaps be viewed as the integration of approved and accredited foreign hospitals into US health care networks, and with current technology such integration is a mere formality. Foreign hospitals integrated into US networks would be held to US standards which would ensure comparable or better care, depending on the facilities and capabilities, etc. There would also be no requirement to change the funding model, and if such facilities were carefully integrated into a network their inclusion would be positively disruptive in that it would be likely to increase the competitiveness of the US hospitals. However, supply could be carefully calibrated so that it would lighten the load at some hospitals as well reduce the cost of care of select procedures such as coronary conditions, of which there are six million Americans suffering. Inclusion, is potentially the easiest and most effective pathway to health care reform in America, no political changes needed, no layoffs as with other industries– i.e. iron belt, manufacturing, IT, etc… simply building capacity of the system and carefully lowering the cost of care.

    The risks of patients traveling overseas can also be eliminated as the logistical risks can be managed and the statistical risks can be insured. I developed a range of special purpose insurance products to do just that, a surgical complications and medical accident compensation insurance product, which covers the costs of complications and provides compensation for medical accidents up to US$500,000. According to the most recent AHIP stats, surgical complications accounted for the 9th largest hospital bill paid by U.S. health insurers. Excluding maternity related costs, they ranked even higher on the list. Therefore, by insuring against complications at foreign hospitals, substantial savings can also be assured.

    We developed a fully HIPAA compliant health care platform (Kaiser also uses it) which could be used to integrate such overseas hospitals, and the national accrediting bodies already exist to credential and admit foreign hospitals and doctors. Such healthcare reform is therefore a reality…

    Thank you kindly for taking the time to read this and I would be sincerely interested in hearing from you, should you care to reply.

    Kenneth D. Hunt