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Looking around the corner: COVID-19 shocks and market dynamics in US medical tourism

Irving Stackpole, Elizabeth Ziemba, Tricia Johnson


Abstract

Patients have historically travelled from across the world to the United States for medical care that is not accessible locally or not available at the same perceived quality. The COVID-19 pandemic has nearly frozen the cross-border buying and selling of healthcare services, referred to as medical tourism. Future medical travel to the United States may also be deterred by the combination of an initially uncoordinated public health response to the pandemic, an overall troubled atmosphere arising from widely publicized racial tensions and pandemic-related disruptions among medical services providers. American hospitals have shifted attention to domestic healthcare needs and risk mitigation to reduce and recover from financial losses. While both reforms to the US healthcare system under the Biden Presidency and expansion to the Affordable Care Act will influence inbound and outbound medical tourism for the country, new international competitors are also likely to have impacts on the medical tourism markets. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, US-based providers are forging new and innovative collaborations for delivering care to patients abroad that promise more efficient and higher quality of care which do not necessitate travel.







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