What if US health insurance "worked" in Nicaragua?
There is an interesting article titled Medical Travel: If Bill Gates Wanted to Do Something Good for the World in Truthout that offers a good start on a question. While the article is about the idea that someone with a lot of money could start an insurance company that encouraged cost-effective health care, we can ask the same question about Medicare.
Right now, Medicare covers your health care in the US (more or less). What that means is that if you need to have your gall bladdar removed or some such thing and you live in Nicaragua you have a choice of travel to the US or not having the surgery being covered by Medicare.
Does this make sense -- either for you personally or financially? Even if you elected to go to the most expensive private hospital in Nicaragura or Costa Rica, the cost would be a fraction of that in the US.
The article goes on to offer some price comparisons not for the developing world but with Spain, Argentina and Chile. The article suggests this has more to do with corruption than anything logical.
However providers of medical care in the United States, drug companies, medical equipment suppliers, doctors and others who benefit from high prices, are far more powerful than steelworkers or textile workers. As a result, the trade deals we have been writing over the last three decades have not been designed to facilitate medical trade.
The article goes on to suggest that if there was really a free market for medical care -- that is you could pick having it performed in some place other than the US -- it would create a downward pressure on US medical costs. In other words, US medical care might be forced to become cost-competative with other countries offering medical services.