Health care has become one of the paramount issues of the 21st century as governments and individuals grapple the complex problems associated with contemporary medical care such as cost, affordability, and shifting demographic trends. One response has been the growth of medical tourism (sometimes called health tourism or global healthcare). Medical tourism is an example of how the forces of globalization are re-shaping what has previously been a relatively stable localized service, medical treatment, in the face of changes to health care. While traveling to distant locations in search of health restoring locations is not new as the affluent have long traveled to spas or exotic locales to derive health benefits. What has changed is who is doing it and why they are doing it as insurers and patients alike become eager participants in the outsourcing of medical care. The rising number of uninsured and underinsured Americans, particularly in the middle class, has been coupled with effective marketing by medical tourism companies to produce growing numbers of Americans traveling to foreign countries for healthcare. China, India, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Africa, and Thailand are only a few of the competitors for overseas patients as a source for economic development. Using analytic frameworks of Immanuel Wallerstein and Anthony Giddens to provide a social analysis of this phenomenon yields an exploration of this trend.
Anne Jenner, E. (2008), "Unsettled borders of care: medical tourism as a new dimension in america's health care crisis", Jacobs Kronenfeld, J. (Ed.) Care for Major Health Problems and Population Health Concerns: Impacts on Patients, Providers and Policy (Research in the Sociology of Health Care, Vol. 26), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 235-249. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0275-4959(08)26011-4
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