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A Cautionary Tale: The ‘New’ Medical Tourism Industry in Argentina

Vindrola-Padros, C; (2015) A Cautionary Tale: The ‘New’ Medical Tourism Industry in Argentina. Somatechnics , 5 (1) pp. 69-87. 10.3366/soma.2015.0148. Green open access

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Abstract

Argentina’s universal model of healthcare and open immigration policies make it a popular destination for people from neighbouring countries requiring free medical treatments. These medical tourists come from Bolivia, Peru, and Paraguay. They are often from low-income households and rural areas, and travel to Argentina seeking medical attention in public hospitals because they are unable to pay for services in their own countries. In addition to these patients, current governmental-private sector agreements are being put in place to attract patients from the US and Europe. This new initiative – called Medicina Argentina (Argentina Healthcare) – hopes to raise the number of foreign patients from 6000 per year to 100,000. In theory, this change in government policy seeks to: provide services to patients who might not be able to access them in their own countries (due to high cost, unavailability, or long waiting lists), increase Argentine tourism income, and improve the quality of the medical services available for local populations. However, in practice, it will mean that an already overburdened healthcare system will have to adapt to suit the needs of short-term, medical tourists. The flow of foreign patients will interact with local migrating patients to create a tiered system of medical tourism, posing ethical and legal challenges in the distribution of scarce resources and regulation of medical care. In this article, I explore the ethical and practical impact of this “new” medical tourism industry on the care provided to the local population.

Type: Article
Title: A Cautionary Tale: The ‘New’ Medical Tourism Industry in Argentina
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3366/soma.2015.0148
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/soma.2015.0148
Language: English
Additional information: © Edinburgh University Press and the Contributor. The online version of this article is published as Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial Licence (http://www. creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction provided the original work is cited. For commercial re-use, please contact permissions@eup.ed.ac.uk. www.euppublishing.com/journal/soma
Keywords: medical tourism, medical travel, health inequalities, ethical dimensions, Argentina
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Surgery and Interventional Sci
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Surgery and Interventional Sci > Department of Targeted Intervention
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1455983
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