Health Tourism

Health Tourism

Social Welfare through International Trade

David Reisman

In this unique and pathbreaking book, David Reisman examines the relatively new phenomenon of health travel. He presents a multidisciplinary account of the way in which lower costs, shorter waiting times, different services, and the chance to combine recreational tourism with a check-up or an operation all come together to make medical travel a new industry with the potential to create jobs and wealth, while at the same time giving sick people high-quality care at an affordable price.

Chapter 1: Introduction

David Reisman

Subjects: economics and finance, health policy and economics, welfare economics, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, economics of social policy, health policy and economics

Extract

Health tourism is old. Just as people have always wanted to travel to visit the wonders of the world, so people have long wanted to take the waters at a spa, be seen by a Harley Street specialist, go as a pilgrim to a holy place because the spirits there could soothe and heal. Even the ancient Greeks went to Epidauria because of the health-giving god Asklepios. Even the ancient Romans went to thermal baths because warm water is good for the joints. What is new is not the phenomenon but the magnitude. It is not just the elite but the middle classes who are actively involved in the international trade of a service that can make them feel well. Minority health tourism is old. Mass health tourism is, however, the creature of modernity and embourgeoisement. The convention is to say health tourism. It would be better to say something else. Health is not the same as medicine: what most patients are going abroad to consume is not organic vegetables or an hour in the gym but the attention of skilled doctors and nurses. Tourism is not the same as travel: the patient who buys hernia repair in the open market is not shopping for a pleasurable holiday in the sun. It would be better to say treatment abroad, medical travel, global health care or international patient business rather than health tourism which is emotive and journalistic. Yet the phrase is there. The websites, the search engines, the travel agents...