'Outsourced' patients and their companions: Stories from forced medical travellers

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In this paper, I describe the experience of outsourced patients who are sent by their governments or insurers through contractual arrangements to a hospital in another country for treatment. I present case studies of nine patients and their accompanying families from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) who were interviewed in a Thai hospital as part of a broader study of medical travel from patients perspectives. The health systems of the GCC suffer shortages in infrastructure, human resources and management skills, and as a consequence patients with particular needs, especially in neurology, orthopaedics and oncology may be sent overseas for treatment. Patients experience long stays overseas producing a considerable burden to their families supporting them. Such patients complicate notions of medical travel but their status also contrasts markedly from stereotypes held about Gulf patients within Thailand. Despite their appreciation of government sponsoring, for many patients the experience of care in Thailand underscored perceived inadequacies of their home health systems and governments. For some, outsourcing represented a betrayal of the obligations of their states to its citizens. (c) 2015, (c) 2015 Taylor Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485 - 500
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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