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Trade in health services (medical tourism)

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Trade in health services and its most high‐profile component, medical tourism, has attracted a great deal of media attention in recent years. The impression often given is that large numbers of patients are actively seeking health care abroad or buying their pharmaceuticals over the Internet from foreign providers. The apparent growth in "imports" and "exports" has been fuelled by a number of factors. Technological advances in information communication systems allow patients or third party purchasers of health care the possibility to seek out quality treatment at lower cost and/or more immediately from health care providers in other countries. An increase in the portability of health coverage, whether as a result of regional arrangements with regard to public health insurance systems, or developments in the private insurance market, are also poised to further increase patient mobility. All this is coupled with a general increase in the temporary movement of populations for business, leisure or specifically for medical reasons between countries.

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: November 1, 2011

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