The Astonishing New World of Medical Tourism

Need surgery? You better travel.

Globalization produces a lot of odd results around the world. One of them is that Hungary has become the dentistry capital of Europe: thanks to aggressive marketing campaigns and heavy government support, more people go there for dental care than to any other country in Europe. The towns of Mosonmagyaróvár and Sopron boast the highest concentrations of dental clinics in the world.

The story of how Hungary became Europe’s dental chair is a case study in the booming practice of medical tourism. It is a rapidly growing business, as patients go in search of lower prices, and some countries have found economic opportunity in turning health care into a global trade. An American with insurance can expect to pay $90,000 for a heart bypass in the U.S., but only $12,000 if he or she travels to Thailand.

The question is whether medical tourism represents the future of health care, which traditionally has been a core responsibility of national governments. Sasha Issenberg’s acclaimed books, The Sushi Economy and The Victory Lab, were early in identifying changes in the way the world works. A brilliant journalist with a keen eye for significant trends, he now turns his talents to medical tourism, and gives us a funny, vivid, wise narrative that will change the way you think about health care.

  • ISBN: 9780990976387
  • Price: $12.99
  • E-book ISBN: 9780990976394
  • On Sale: February 9, 2016
  • Pages: 126


“A small, sharp new book ... It reads like a magazine article—fast, entertaining and occasionally funny.” —Nancy Szokan, Washington Post

“Revealing and timely new book ... A notable strength of this book is Issenberg’s keen and thorough shoe-leather reporting as he brings us through the hospitals of Eastern Europe.” —Adam Gaffney, New Republic

“Issenberg takes a look at the practice and its ramifications for the way people around the world receive health care. He examines examples ranging from a Hungarian dentist who has built an empire out of treating travelers, to heart surgery on the cheap in Thailand, to a backlash against foreign patients in Israel.” —Nick Robins-Early, Huffington Post

“Accessible, on-the-ground reporting of an increasingly commonplace phenomenon with serious implications for the future of health care.” Kirkus Reviews

“This book may come as a shock to those used to medical tourism books that are little more than paid advertorial, so based on the past that they are out of date. The Hungarian dental tourism business seems to be pretending that the book does not exist. Read it and understand why.” International Medical Travel Journal

“As medical and dental tourism options continue to proliferate in Costa Rica and around the globe, more and more patients will become tourists seeking affordable care away from home. This is the future of healthcare.” The Costa Rica Star


Hungary: World Capital of Dentistry — The Atlantic

Did you know? Hungary: World Capital of Dentistry — LinkedIn

Hot Type: New books by Swarthmore graduates — Swarthmore

Hitting The Road For Healthcare — Think on KERA

Planes, Trains, and Root Canals: The new world of medical tourism

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About the author

Sasha Issenberg
© Akiko Horiyama

Sasha Issenberg is the author of The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns (2012) and The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy (2007). He is the Washington correspondent for Monocle and a contributor to Bloomberg Politics. He covered the 2008 election as a national political correspondent for The Boston Globe and the 2012 election as a columnist for Slate. His work has also appeared in The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, and George, where he was a contributing editor. He is currently a resident scholar in the UCLA Department of Political Science.  @sissenberg