Medical Tourism & US Healthcare

Our View on Competitive Forces Exerted by Medical Tourism on U.S. Healthcare System

The founder of MedVacation recently commented on the article about competitive pressures exerted by Medical Tourism on local healthcare providers.

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I certainly agree with Mark's point that medical tourism as a whole is poised to grow. Having said that, I do not see local healthcare providers competing head to head with medical tourism providers, at least in the near future.

If Republicans do not succeed in repealing the healthcare bill, the US healthcare system will be greatly overburdened by the influx of soon to be insured 38 million Americans. Here are a few additional forces exerting their influence on the supply and the demand sides. As we know, it may take up to 12 years to graduate and train doctors. Even if the medical schools increased their enrollments dramatically today, and they have not, it would take years before the new doctors enter the healthcare system in this country. We can always allow more foreign doctors.

Many of you may have also read about doctors who threatened to quit practicing medicine, if the healthcare became public. I saw results from several surveys stating that nearly 40 percent of doctors would consider quitting or retiring earlier. I am certain that these numbers are grosslly exaggerated. But even if two or five percent of today's doctors quit, while 38 million of people entered the system, you do not have to think really hard to realize what will happen.

Recently, I had two interesting conversations. One conversation was with a friend of mine, who had to wait over four weeks to see a specialist. The other one was with a hospital administrator. You may guess how these conversations went. One of them complained that it takes way too long to see a specialist in this country. The other one voiced his concern about not having enough doctors to handle the future influx of new patients. Starting 2014, even family doctors and doctors who see patients the same day will have more patients than they will be able to handle. Therefore, I do not anticipate competition heating up between local providers and foreign providers.

As my economics professor in grad school used to say: "With time, the markets will adjust." A decade from now, the situation may look dramatically different. The world is certainly becoming smaller.

Taras Kuzin
Founder & CEO
taras@themedvacation.com

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