Last week, The New York Times published Arriving as Pregnant Tourists, Leaving with American Babies, a report that offered an interesting peek at a San Gabriel maternity center that catered to pregnant mothers from China. While the article focused on the immigration law aspects of this practice, I wanted to delve into some other issues that were not covered.
Medical tourism, or the practice of securing medical services in another state or country, is a serious business. Major American hospitals, including Mayo Clinic, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Cleveland Clinic, Stanford, UCSF, Duke, and Massachusetts General Hospital, have programs dedicated to international patients seeking state-of-the-art care. Some hospitals even have dedicated maternity services for international patients. These programs offer hospitals an avenue to expand their revenue base by serving patients willing to pay full hospital costs by themselves. In an era of diminished public funding and renewed threats to Medicare, these premium paying patients may well end up subsidizing the cost of care for many of us.
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