Changes to America’s healthcare system may kill the dream of the American tourist

Simplifying the funding structure within US hospitals could also lead to significant cost savings. At present an individual US healthcare provider may have to administer payments through upwards of 700 different providers.
Past research (1) has shown that while the United States spends significantly more on health care per capita than Europeans nations, Europe actually delivers more real resources per capita. For example, Europe employs a larger health workforce per capita and delivers more physician visits, hospital days, and prescription drugs than the United States. Higher prices and administrative inefficiencies account for most of this differential.
Obama’s grand plan could end the American medical tourism dream. Introducing what is in effect a publicly funded healthcare system and forcing down prices could remove a key driver for outbound medical tourism from the USA.

The IMTJ’s conclusion:

If Americans are a target market, you need to keep a very close eye on US healthcare reform as it could quickly impact your business. You may even have to change from marketing on price to marketing on quality alone.”
…and I tend to agree.
Recent years have seen a bandwagon effect in the medical tourism sector. And it’s been a “get it cheap” bandwagon. But for decades medical tourism has been driven by patients seeking better treatment, specialist expertise, and higher quality. Some new market entrants may need to rethink their strategy.
1 Mark V. Pauly, “US health care costs: The untold true story,” Health Affairs, 1993, pp. 152–9.

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As Editor in Chief of International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ) and a Healthcare Consultant for LaingBuisson, Keith Pollard is one of Europe’s leading experts on private healthcare, medical tourism and cross border healthcare, providing consultancy and research services, and attending and contributing to major conferences across the world on the subject. He has been involved in private healthcare, medical travel and cross border healthcare since the 1990s. His career has embraced the management of private hospitals in the UK, research and feasibility studies for healthcare ventures, the marketing and business development aspects of healthcare and medical travel and publishing, research and consultancy on cross border healthcare.