The Rise of Medical Tourism

Dean Baker has long complained that when American journalists and policymakers talk about "free trade" they don’t think to include trade in things like medical care — the price of which could be brought down substantially if foreign-trained doctors were free to practice their vocation in the US.

But as a wonderful and detailed article in the Economist explains, maybe they won’t need to. Medical tourism — when Americans travel to hospitals abroad for their care, saving thousands of dollars even on copays, let alone rack-rate prices — is set to rise sharply in coming years, and that in turn is likely to bring downward pressure on medical costs domestically. It’s no alternative to health-care reform in the US, of course. But it is a useful prod in the right direction.

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