Emerging Industry Overview: Medical Tourism

Industry Snapshot

Medical tourism (also called by the terms medical travel, health tourism, or global health care) was created as a term by travel agencies and the media to describe the rapidly growing practice of traveling into other countries to obtain health care. It may also refer to the instances of health care providers traveling out of the country to deliver health care services that cannot otherwise be received.

U.S. citizens used to travel internationally for cancer treatments not found here. However, now, typical treatments sought by travelers include elective procedures as well as complex specialized surgeries such as joint replacements (both knee and hip), cardiac surgery, dental surgery, and cosmetic surgeries.

Because the practice has grown so much in the past few years, now, virtually every type of health care, including psychiatry, convalescent care, and burial services are sought out. Because these services are often found in countries that have little governmental oversight, health care providers and health care customers are able to utilize less-formal means of billing and payment.