Could medical tourism trend parallel fate of Detroit car industry?

Here's an interesting take on medical tourism from the perspective of another business--the spa industry. Apparently, spa business executives are keeping a close watch on medical tourism, which they believe to be a good fit with international spa expansion. And as an editor with consumer spa site notes, spas and high-end medical services help each other grow their business. More importantly, they could be the means by which American healthcare providers are outfoxed, suggests editor Susie Ellis.

Ellis says that most mainstream American journalists view medical tourism with skepticism, noting that U.S. hospitals lose revenue needed to subsidize unprofitable services every time people get treated overseas; suggesting that there's not enough oversight in foreign lands to guarantee high-quality care; and contending that poor people in other countries are essentially subsidizing the cost of care for prosperous Americans.

For her part, Ellis says that American providers should beware of this competition. She argues that if foreign providers are far less costly and offer comparable quality, the U.S. healthcare industry could suffer a fate similar to that of the Detroit auto industry, which was trumped by foreign manufacturers. In fact, she says that healthcare executives should think "U.S. car industry" every time they hear "medical tourism." Though she may be exaggerating a bit, this definitely leaves us with something to chew on, no?

To read Ellis' column:
- read this blog

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