Patients without borders: the emergence of medical tourism

Int J Health Serv. 2007;37(1):193-8. doi: 10.2190/4857-468G-2325-47UU.


A growing number of patients from the United States and other developed countries are traveling abroad with the express purpose of obtaining health care, including elective surgery and long-term care. This trend is not innocuous. It can lead developing countries to emphasize technology-intensive tertiary care for foreigners at the expense of basic health care for their citizens. Moreover, it can exacerbate the brain drain from the public to the private sector. The examples of Thailand and India suggest the distorting effects of this trend and raise questions of social equity in the distribution of scarce resources.

MeSH terms

  • Developed Countries
  • Developing Countries / economics
  • Elective Surgical Procedures / economics
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics
  • Health Services Accessibility / trends*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Internationality*
  • Investments*
  • Policy Making
  • Politics
  • Thailand
  • Travel*