A Discussion on the New World of Medical Tourism:

Planes, Trains, and Root Canals

February 10, 2016 · 6-7PM

Columbia Law School, Jerome Greene Hall, room 105

  • Sasha Issenberg, author of “Outpatients: The Astonishing New World of Medical Tourism”
  • Michael W. Doyle, University Professor, Director of Columbia Global Policy Initiative, Member of the Committee on Global Thought
  • Nicholas Lemann, Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor of Journalism, Director of Columbia Global Reports

planes, trains, root canals shadowMedical tourism is growing rapidly. The question is whether it represents the future of healthcare, which traditionally, at least in the developed world, has been a core responsibility of national governments. The tie between where a company has its headquarters and where it manufactures its products was broken long ago. It may be that people will start outsourcing their checkups and operations to the lowest provider, no matter where, in the same way. And that will mean that the purpose of government will have to change too.

On February 10, 2016, Columbia Global Reports and the Committee on Global Thought welcomed “Outpatients” author Sasha Issenberg, Columbia University Professor and Committee on Global Thought member Michael Doyle, and Director of Columbia Global Reports Nicholas Lemann, to a panel discussion on medical tourism, global healthcare, and Issenberg’s new book “Outpatients: The Astonishing New World of Medical Tourism.” The discussion took place from 6-7PM at Columbia Law School Jerome Greene Hall, room 105.

Photo Gallery

Sasha Issenberg shadowSasha 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.


Michael Doyle shadowMichael Doyle is a University Professor at Columbia University, formerly the Harold Brown Professor of U.S. Foreign and Security Policy, which is a three-fold appointment in the School of International and Public Affairs, the Department of Political Science, and the Law School. His research interests include international relations theory, international law, and international history; civil wars and international peace-building; and the United Nations. Since 2006, Doyle has been an individual member of the UN Democracy Fund, which was established in 2005 by the UN General Assembly to promote grass-roots democratization around the world. Doyle currently serves as the organization’s chairperson. He also co-directs the Center on Global Governance at Columbia Law School.

In 2009, Doyle became a member of the American Philosophical Society, and, that same year, he received the Charles E. Merriam Award from the American Political Science Association. The award is given biennially “to a person whose published work and career represent a significant contribution to the art of government through the application of social science research.” In 2001, Doyle was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was inducted in 2012.

From 2001 to 2003, Professor Doyle served as Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. His responsibilities in the Secretary-General’s Executive Office included strategic planning (the “Millennium Development Goals“), outreach to the international corporate sector (the “Global Compact“), and relations with Washington. He is the former chair of the Academic Council of the United Nations Community. He is currently an individual member, appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and the chair of the U.N. Democracy Fund. He formerly taught at Princeton University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom. At Princeton, Doyle directed the Center of International Studies and chaired the editorial board of the committee of editors for World Politics. He served as vice president and senior fellow of the International Peace Institute and currently is a member of its board.


Nicholas with ShadowNicholas Lemann is the Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor of Journalism, Dean Emeritus of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and Director of Columbia Global Reports.

Professor Lemann was born, raised and educated in New Orleans. He began his journalism career as a 17-year-old writer for an alternative weekly newspaper there, the Vieux Carre Courier. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1976, where he concentrated in American history and literature and was president of the Harvard Crimson. After graduation, he worked at the Washington Monthly, as an associate editor and then managing editor; at Texas Monthly, as an associate editor and then executive editor; at The Washington Post, as a member of the national staff; at The Atlantic Monthly, as national correspondent; and at The New Yorker, as staff writer and then Washington correspondent.

On September 1, 2003, he became dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, at the end of a process of re-examination of the school's mission conducted by a national task force convened by the university's president, Lee C. Bollinger. During Lemann's time as dean, the Journalism School launched and completed its first capital fundraising campaign, added 20 members to its full-time faculty, built a student center, started its first new professional degree program since the 1930s, and launched significant new initiatives in investigative reporting, digital journalism, executive leadership for news organizations, and other areas. He stepped down as dean in 2013, following two five-year terms.

Lemann continues to contribute to The New Yorker as a staff writer. He has published five books, most recently "Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War" (2006); "The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy" (1999), which helped lead to a major reform of the SAT; and "The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America" (1991), which won several book prizes. He has written widely for such publications as The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, and Slate; worked in documentary television with Blackside, Inc., "FRONTLINE," the Discovery Channel, and the BBC; and lectured at many universities.

Lemann serves on the boards of directors of the Authors Guild, the National Academy of Sciences’ Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, and the Academy of Political Science, and is a member of the New York Institute for the Humanities. He was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in April, 2010.

About "Outpatients: The astonishing new world of medical tourism"

OutpatientsGlobalization 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 medial 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.

“In Switzerland, you get chocolates and watches. In Hungary, you get dentistry.”

Visit globalreports.columbia.edu/books/outpatients for more information on "Outpatients" and where to purchase it.

The event will take place at Columbia Law School Jerome Greene Hall, room 105. Please check back if any updates to the location occur.