Trade in Health

Trade in Health

Economics, Ethics and Public Policy

David Reisman

Once exports and imports meant agriculture and industry. Today, in the global economy and the electronic age, trade is also expanding into the service sector. This timely book closely examines trade in health. Professor David Reisman offers a comprehensive and searching multidisciplinary account of the way in which medical services, patients, capital and professionals make up a global healthcare economy that crosses borders. Combining theory and empirical evidence from economics, tourism, and medical care, scholars involved in health economics and social administration will find much of significance in this authoritative study.

Chapter 2: Number, weight and measure

David Reisman

Subjects: economics and finance, health policy and economics, politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, health policy and economics


The evidence speaks for itself: ëThe truthful answer: Nobody knowsí (Youngman, 2009). The evidence is unreliable and it is inconsistent. As Lunt and his colleagues pointedly observe: ëWe can narrow down the number of medical tourists worldwide as lying somewhere between 60 000 and 50 millioní (Lunt, Smith, Exworthy, Green, Horsfall and Mannion, 2011: 15). Surveying the data-sources, Johnston is right to conclude that there is no reliable hard data on patient numbers, patient flows, treatment types and success rates. Even ëclear and unified definitions of the phenomenoní (Johnston, Crooks, Snyder and Kingsbury, 2010) are thin on the ground. Speculation abounds. There are theories and assumptions. Empirical evidence is more difficult to obtain. It is not even certain that the market is growing. Not enough is known. Yet something is known. This chapter is about what has been established and what more there is to find out. Section 2.1, ëThe questionsí, provides a check-list of important topics. Section 2.2, ëThe sourcesí, asks where information can be obtained to map out the international flows. Section 2.3, ëThe factsí, shows that the gaps are huge but that at the centre of the darkness there is nonetheless research.

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