Can we say that avoiding these negative effects by restricting medical tourism is in the home country’s best interests? One version of the argument suggests America’s interest in the health of the poor abroad is founded on economic grounds: Since the U. S. shares a trade relationship with many of these destination countries that serve as producer-exporters of cheap goods and consumer-importers of our goods, improving their healthcare access benefits the U. S. by creating and maintaining a healthy population of workers and consumers. The argument can also be made on public health grounds: In a globalized world, decreased access to treatment for infectious diseases in any population increases the risk of transmission and outbreak in other countries, especially through medical tourists’ own travel.
However, even if it is in the American self-interest to help another country’s poor access healthcare, it will frequently be even more in its self-interest to help its own poor citizens in this regard. This objection is particularly salient for those paying out-of-pocket for their medical treatment, as opposed to those who are traveling abroad because of the inducement of their medical insurer. For this reason, I do not think self-interest based arguments will have much purchase.