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The Case on Globalization of Health Care

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The Case on Globalization of Health Care discusses how the health care industry has always been thought to be immune to globalization and how that way of thinking is now changing. The quality of healthcare in the United States is ranked 37th worldwide, but as a percentage of GDP it is second! Healthcare spending in the U.S. is approximately 2.5 million, more than 4 times what is spent on national defense! Other countries have cut healthcare costs yet have higher quality medical care than in the United States. Our government continues to battle over healthcare, so many consumers and companies alike are taking matters into their own hands and looking at medical tourism as an option to reduce costs and improve quality of care. Medical Tourism is the rapidly growing practice of traveling across international borders to obtain health care.

One of the key issues to consider regarding medical tourism is the quality of care outside of the States, but as mentioned earlier we are ranked 37th worldwide! India has gained a reputation for cardiac care, Belgium for hip surgery, Korea for spine surgery. The list goes on and on and all countries are ranked higher for quality of care and perform treatment at a fraction of the cost in the U.S. Many physicians in medical tourism destinations received their training in industrialized nations and have board certification. The Joint Commission is a not-for-profit private company that accredits hospitals in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South America. This is the same company that accredits all U.S. hospitals. There are currently 271 hospitals outside of the U.S. accredited by this organization, this means these international hospitals meet or exceed U.S. standards.

The initial course of action in the globalization of health care was with the interpretation of certain diagnostic tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The U.S. has a shortage of radiologists, so images can be sent via the internet to physicians in India and the scans can be interpreted overnight and resulted to the patient the next day.

The advantages to seeking care in other countries are lower costs, shorter wait times for those living in nations where care is limited and in many cases, a higher level of care. International travel is also well developed. Disadvantages are that most insurance companies will not cover an "out of network" provider and of course, travel arrangements need to be made and paid for. This requires a significant initial investment. Another weakness is that consumers are not protected against malpractice. There are also some concerns over the safety of travel to certain parts of the world. Opportunities are that there will be an increase in demand from the U.S. and Europe due to the aging baby boomer population therefore creating more health care jobs. Threats are to the health care systems in the developed countries that may lose business to countries such



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