How changes in the law drive medical tourism


Generally, medical tourism is pushed by sufferers looking for decrease prices. Generally, it’s a want to entry larger high quality therapy or a greater consequence. However when the legal guidelines and laws on therapy differ from area to area, or from nation to nation, sufferers will cross borders to hunt the therapy they need or want. IMTJ Editor in chief Keith Pollard appears to be like at current examples spanning the USA, the EU and India.

In June, we noticed the most important change in laws on abortion within the USA for 50 years. In 1973, the Roe v Wade case was a authorized landmark, defending ladies’s rights to abortion throughout the USA. The case dominated {that a} lady’s proper to terminate a being pregnant was protected by the US structure and, at the moment, prevented two states, Texas and Georgia, from proscribing these rights. Nonetheless, the US Supreme Court docket has now ended this constitutional proper. Greater than half of the US’s 50 states will now introduce legal guidelines that limit entry to abortion companies.

The modifications in US regulation will present a stimulus to home medical journey from one US state to a different, and probably to international locations exterior of the USA. It could put abortion clinics in some US states out of enterprise and create an inflow of sufferers for these elsewhere.

IVF – regulation drives medical journey

The marketplace for cross border assisted copy is considerably influenced by the variation in regulation from one nation to a different. Throughout the EU, there isn’t any commonplace method to who can entry IVF therapy and what clinics can ship. The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) maintains an interactive map that illustrates the variability of ART and IUI  laws and regulation. The assisted copy group IVI present a helpful summary of the different rules and regulations:

  • Sperm donation is permitted in 20 of the 27 EU states.
  • Egg donation is barely allowed in 17 states.
  • Donor anonymity varies from state to state. In international locations equivalent to Switzerland, Germany, Malta, Finland and the UK, a baby can discover out the identification of the donor after they attain a sure age.
  • There are restrictions in some international locations which solely allow therapy for heterosexual {couples}. The rights of single ladies and lesbian {couples} additionally range.
  • There could also be age limits on ladies’s entry to therapy.

Inevitably, the distinction in regulation between international locations encourages infertile {couples} to journey to a vacation spot the place the therapy they need is permitted.

EU laws on medical journey

Moderately than limit medical journey, again in 2011 the EU’s Directive 2011/24/EU on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare was supposed to ascertain guidelines for facilitating entry to secure and high-quality cross-border healthcare within the EU, to make sure affected person mobility in accordance with the ideas established by the European Court docket of Justice and to advertise the member states’ cooperation on healthcare. Nonetheless, greater than ten years on, the impression of this main piece of laws has most likely been lower than was hoped, though some makes an attempt have been made to evaluate the impression on totally different member states (See: Impact of the Directive 2011/24/EU on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare: A comparative analysis).

Drug and therapy approval attracts medical travellers

One other instance of laws driving medical journey is the place approaches to therapy and new drug developments could also be quick tracked in a single nation in comparison with one other. “Treatment tourism” is commonly pushed by the decrease prices of medicine in some international locations. For instance, there may be the movement of US residents throughout the border into Mexico to acquire medication, significantly for long run situations, which might be accessible at considerably diminished costs. Nonetheless, the pursuit of the “elixir of life” or a lifesaving drug continues to drive medical journey the place a “miracle treatment” is claimed to be accessible in a vacation spot. A major instance is stem cell remedy, which is commonly claimed repair the harm ensuing from a illness or life-threatening situation. This clearly presents some risks when sufferers search remedies which might be unproven or the place the usual of care could also be questionable.

Visa facilitation

Some international locations have been pro-active in encouraging medical journey by establishing clear processes to help medical journey. India’s medical visa programme is a first-rate instance of this. A Dwelling Ministry report back to the Indian Parliament in February 2022 said that 825,000 medical visas to India were issued to foreigners, largely from African nations, between 2019 and 2021. Extra just lately, Prime Minister Modi has introduced the introduction of a particular AYUSH visa class to advertise inbound medical tourism for conventional drugs therapy, throughout the ‘Heal in India’ marketing campaign.

So… it’s not nearly decrease value and higher high quality

Medical tourism is sophisticated. It isn’t a single market. It’s composed of a mess of market niches, every of which is made up of disparate sufferers with various wants, who could also be pushed to contemplate medical journey for quite a lot of causes. A change in healthcare regulation and laws in a single nation could typically current a chance for an additional.



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