RESEARCH ARTICLE


The Promotion of Cross-Border Medical Tourism in Developing Countries: Economic Growth at the Expense of Healthcare System Efficiency and Cost Containment?



Kai-Lit Phua*
School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University Malaysia, Jalan Lagoon Selatan, 46150 Bandar Sunway, Selangor, Malaysia


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Creative Commons License
© Kai-Lit Phua; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/legalcode), which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University Malaysia, Jalan Lagoon Selatan, 46150 Bandar Sunway, Selangor, Malaysia; Tel: (+603)-5514-6324; Fax: (+603)-5514-6323; E-mail: phuakl@hotmail.com


Abstract

Background:

More and more developing nations are promoting cross-border medical tourism as a way to enhance economic growth. Major destinations for medical tourism in South and Southeast Asia include India, Thailand, Malaysia and wealthy Singapore. Much has been written on the pros and cons of the growth of medical tourism for both destination and source countries. This article uses a different approach.

Methodology:

Examples from India, Thailand and Malaysia are used to discuss the actual and potential impact of medical tourism on healthcare system efficiency and costs.

Results and Conclusions:

Based on the experience of these three countries, it is argued that the promotion of cross-border medical tourism to enhance economic growth is likely to be at the expense of national healthcare system efficiency as it goes directly against cost containment strategies and measures.

Keywords: Access to healthcare, Cost containment, Healthcare system efficiency, Medical tourism.