Research Spotlight: Medical tourism

Passport with plane ticketsMore and more Americans are choosing to receive medical treatment – even complicated surgeries – in foreign countries to save big money. The practice is called “medical tourism,” but do the risks to consumers outweigh the savings?

“That’s an important question, says Nathan Cortez, assistant professor in SMU’s Dedman School of Law, who is focusing his research in health law on this emerging medical market. “Patients take a calculated risk by seeking medical care overseas in regulatory systems that may not offer the rights or protections they expect.”

Interviewed for National Public Radio last November, he warned that although patients are free to travel overseas and reap whatever savings they can find, the international shop-around could affect how U.S. hospitals pay for care for the uninsured.

“We see this all the time with other industries,” Cortez told NPR. “Health care has been notoriously a local industry, and now it’s … succumbing to globalization like other industries have.”

Read more in SMU Research magazine