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Medical Tourism Biz Booming: Insurance Companies May Force Us Abroad


Medical Tourism Biz Booming

What was as a footnote in the travel industry, Medical Tourism, has grown into a full blown industry. And India taking the lead in attracting a huge number of patients from around the world to its first-class medical and tourism facilities… at third-word prices.

Travel Daily News (a travel and tourism trade news portal) ) headlined the trend with “Indian Medical Tourism market poised for stupendous growth,” and went on to say that what’s driving the rush to India are not just the low prices, but the short waits, skilled care and the chance to recuperate in luxury while seeing the sights of India as part of the price.

The All Medical Tourism site reports that the cost of surgery in India (Thailand and South Africa) can be one-tenth of what it is in the United States and Western Europe. Sometimes less.

Look at this:

* A $30,000 heart surgery procedure in the US goes for $8,000 in India…and that often includes round-trip airfare

* A $300,000 liver transplant in the United States costs about $69, 000 in India

* A $13,000 hip replacement in a UK hospital costs about $4,300 in India

But what really sells the patients are the short waits

One UK patient, a violin repair craftsman in Bradford, England, was told by his doctor that under the country’s National Health Service (NHS) plan, he’d have to wait 6 months for a heart bypass operation.

Or he could pay 19,000 pounds ($30,000 + USD) to have the procedure more or less immediately.

He flew to India, was seen at once, paid $7,000 for the procedure, including the flight, and had a great time.

The Medical Tourism India web site is pretty thorough and professional, outlining procedures and costs on everything from eye care treatment to IVF (In Vitro Fertilization).

It even has the option for patients to join the conversation with other patients via their blog, Twitter or Facebook accounts.

The site helpfully offers travel suggestions like how best to visit Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal, or what to do in Mumbai.

Indian medical teams are typically US or European trained, and while Travel Daily News says lifestyle and demographic issues account for India’s growth as a Global Health Care center, there is another discussion under the radar.

Will insurance companies, sensing the huge savings when patients seek treatment abroad, encourage (and someday insist) that expensive medical procedures be done overseas?

While that seems unlikely at first glance, health insurance companies are all about the bottom line.

And if they’re saving huge amounts of money on medical procedures in India as opposed to New York, they might just make medical tourism abroad mandatory.

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