The following is from the Nov. 14, 2007, edition of National Public Radio. SMU Law Professor Nathan Cortez, who teaches and writes in the areas of health law in Dedman School of Law, provided expert commentary for this story.
By Greg Allen
Maybe you're going to have surgery, a serious but routine procedure like hip replacement, cataract removal, a heart bypass.
Would you prefer to have it done at your local hospital or at one in Singapore, Thailand or Costa Rica? That's a choice Americans are increasingly being asked to make.
"Medical tourism" — traveling overseas for medical care — was first embraced by consumers. But it's now also being looked at by employers and health insurance companies. . .
But as medical tourism grows, Nathan Cortez sees a danger. Cortez, an assistant law professor at Southern Methodist University, is publishing a paper soon on medical tourism. In signing waivers and agreeing to overseas treatment where malpractice lawsuits are impractical, he says, patients should be aware they are assuming additional risk, and he believes they should be compensated for it.
While patients should be free to travel overseas and reap savings if they wish, one consequence may be that people who insist on receiving treatment only in the United States will end up paying more, he says.
"We see this all the time with other industries," Cortez says. "Health care has been notoriously a local industry, and now it's ... succumbing to globalization like other industries have."
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