The Global Healthcare Economy

Picture credit: Benjamin Hunter

A recent phase of healthcare expansion, something intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, is driving the emergence and evolution of a range of new local and global markets. From the growth of insurance and digital platform industries, to the “medicities” or “health cities” being constructed in various settings, we study these changes and the implications for how healthcare systems are organised.

Commercial health insurance

Financial markets, actors, institutions and technologies are increasingly determining which kinds of services and ‘welfare’ are available and how these are narrated. We take an analytical lens to the growing global markets for commercial health insurance, asking why and how this financial technology is gaining in prominence as part of private sector solutions envisaged for public health problems in many countries.

Healthcare agents and platforms

People face difficult decisions when they try to access healthcare, yet they often lack reliable information with which to make those decisions. This provides commercial opportunities for intermediaries to facilitate – or ‘broker’ – access to healthcare. We examine how these systems of brokerage emerge in the healthcare sector and their implications for healthcare access. This includes work funded by the Wellcome Trust to consider the platform-based systems of brokerage that exist to facilitate domestic and international access to healthcare in Delhi and London.

Real estate

Urban transformations offer significant opportunities for real estate development and the building of healthcare facilities has been given high profile in modernisation discourse alongside condominiums, shopping malls, hotels and IT parks. Industrial or agricultural land use is being converted to accommodate construction of vast ‘medicities’ or ‘health cities’ – comprising super-speciality hospitals focused offering cutting edge technology for specific conditions (cardiology, nephrology, endocrinology, joint replacement), medical training facilities and laboratories. But who really benefits from these transformations? To date our work has focused on India, where a plethora of plans for “medicities” in different states have been announced in the press media since 2007.



On insurance:

  • Murray SF (Forthcoming). Commodified Health Regimes: The Promotion of Commercial Health Insurance in the Global South.

On healthcare agents and platforms:

On real estate:

Texts on the broader global healthcare economy:

Image result for wellcome trust