Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Need a knee replacement? You could save thousands of dollars traveling to a different state.

Prices for a knee replacement vary between $21,976 in Arizona to $57,504 in California according to Health News NPR. So why not shop around? In a new book chapter about domestic medical tourism just published by Apple Academic Press, Simon Hudson discusses how a growing number of US patients are traveling for medical care within their own country, in order to save money or receive better care. To date, the literature on medical tourism has focused almost exclusively on the international side of medical tourism – and in many cases Americans who travel to developing countries for medical services. However, Hudson suggests that the shape of medical tourism is not confined to customers traveling abroad for their surgery or wellness treatments. There is a growing number of patients who shop around for medical care within their own country. Such tourism is expected to grow significantly in the US, as more employers and insurers are offering financial incentives to encourage workers to consider domestic medical travel. Hudson believes that domestic medical tourism could be even more critical for the health sector now fewer international medical tourists are coming to the country. Hudson cites a recent article in Time that discusses how the ‘Trump Slump” - the anticipated decline in foreign travelers to the US due to the reality of Donald Trump as president - could cost the US well over $10 billion per year in lost tourism revenues  - including revenues from medical tourism. The US, with its strong pharmaceutical industry and high-tech hospitals, has traditionally been a destination for inbound medical tourists. Cutting-edge research institutions, like the Cleveland and Mayo Clinics and John Hopkins, have been targeting an international clientele for decades. But they may have to start looking closer to home for their clients.

Hudson’s book chapter can be found in the book Medical Tourism and Wellness edited by Frederick DeMicco.

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