Thursday, November 02, 2006

Globalization + Health Care Crisis = Medical Tourism

An interesting article came "across the wire" today about outsourcing some medical procedures globally. The gist of the article is that, considering factors such as the 46 million uninsured Americans, options such as getting medical procedures performed overseas are starting to look better and better.

The article talks about the positives and negatives (e.g., risk) of medical tourism. It goes on to mention the tale of a 60 year old Oklahoma woman who needed a hip replacement ($40,000 in the states) for which her employer (Coldwell banker) supported her in selecting an alternative option: surgery in India. According to the article:

"In addition to saving thousands — the three-week trip totaled about $12,000, including the surgery, travel and lodging for two and a tour of the Taj Mahal — she also underwent a new technique just approved this year in the U.S."

There seems to be more and more reporting on this subject. This article follows a recent article in Business 2.0 about the same topic. This article affirms that, "This year alone, upwards of 500,000 Americans are expected to travel overseas to get their bodies fixed, at prices 30 to 80 percent less than at home."

According to testimony given before the senate in June of this year, the savings for procedures performed in countries such as India can be substantial. For instance, heart bypass surgery costing between $55,000 and $86,000 in the U.S. would approximately $6,000 in India. Obviously, there are risk issues that need to be considered, but the aforementioned Oklahoma woman's comments are noteworthy,
"It's either that, or do it in the States for $28,000 to $40,000," she said. In the U.S. do you not sign forms? They're not responsible. The risk of it didn't really weigh on me."

All of this really, makes one stop and consider where this could all go. What this tells me is that the players within the current U.S. health care system (e.g., hospitals, doctors, etc.) drag their feet (in addressing the health care crisis) at their own peril.

There are a lot of issues to consider with respect to medical tourism and there is no shortage of websites and blogs that address these such as:

Surber's Old Columns
Global Surgical Solutions Blog

What's your take on this?


Nivin said...

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Has Anyone Actually Tried Medical Tourism? said...

Has Anyone Actually Tried Medical Tourism? We've read about it, heard about it, and even talked about it. But how many of us know someone who has gone on a health vacation to India? Anyone ever come back from Thailand with a new hip? Is there any forum where real people can discuss real medical tourism issues.