The Flourishing Medical Tourism Business in America

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media , April 16, 2014

The Jackson International program at Miami's Jackson Health System draws patients to the U.S. with concierge services. Elective international patients want extra amenities in addition to high-quality care.


>>>View Jackson Health System Slideshow

For the average person on the street, "medical tourism" still conjures images of the rich and fabulous getting nipped and tucked in Mexico or southeast Asia, recovering in a cabana by the pool with bottomless pitchers of mai tais.

Yet as many hospital executives know, the United States is a leading destination for medical tourists—the third-most popular healthcare destination worldwide in 2012, with 800,000 international patients flying in to seek care, according to Patients Beyond Borders, an informational publisher for medical tourists.

And in Florida, legislators are trying to boost that number even more. Recent proposals in the state's House and Senate would pump $5 million into efforts to the local healthcare industry to draw potential patients worldwide. The measures have support from bipartisan lawmakers and several Florida health systems, which stand to benefit from a potential increase in patients coming from abroad.

One such organization is Jackson Health System, a Miami-based nonprofit academic medical system that already treats about 2,500 foreign patients a year, generating $78.3 million each year in gross charges from international payments. The six-hospital health system, which is affiliated with the University of Miami and Florida International University medical schools, has made an investment in catering to medical tourists, spending around $2.1 million a year to run the program.

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3 comments on "The Flourishing Medical Tourism Business in America"

Alice smith (6/1/2015 at 1:48 AM)
most American patients obtain medical treatment in Mexico or India. Currently, countries like India and Thailand provide state-of-the-art amenities for critical treatments like hip or knee replacements and cardiac surgery. Some other popular destinations are Singapore, Belgium and South Africa. Many people from Northern and Western Europe visit Central and Eastern Europe for low-priced medical and dental care.Medical tourism for USA citizens is a safe and affordable alternative when the necessary research and precautions are taken prior to the journey.

Todd (4/23/2014 at 11:44 AM)
Hard to see how a facility in Florida could come close to matching the total value (Cost/Quality) offered by many Joint Commission International Accredited facilities such as Anadolu, Bumrungrad or even perhaps Severance.

Joseph Harkins (4/17/2014 at 2:53 PM)
In the minds of world travelers, Florida is already a known commodity. Advertising won't be enough to increase and sustain medical tourism patients to Florida. Stakeholders – the hospital administrators, the physicians, the hospitality entities – interested in strengthening Florida's position as a medical tourism destination need to identify niche areas of healthcare and promote those services offered to patients who need them most.




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