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BPO Journal

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Medical Tourism?

I came across this article in the Wall Street Journal today - dated but still relevant, given the persistent high costs of healthcare and the demand for inexpensive medical treatment. "Traveling Cure: India's New Coup In Outsourcing..." examines India's capitalization of these very costs to emerge as a "global health care provider". To quote the journal,

"...The Indian government sees health care as a growth industry. Public and private Indian universities are churning out 20,000 doctors and 30,000 nurses a year, some of them destined for jobs in western countries. That is roughly triple the pace at which nurses were trained during the 1990s.

In the so-called medical-tourism business, the focus is on big-ticket surgical procedures from face-lifts to liver transplants. Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have taken the lead in this field. Promoting health-care services alongside tourist destinations, the countries attracted more than 600,000 patients in 2003 alone, according to officials in Thailand and Malaysia.

(India-based) Apollo Hospitals offers cardiac surgery for about $4,000, compared with at least $30,000 in the U.S. Apollo's orthopedic surgeries cost $4,500, less than one-fourth the U.S. price. Consulting firm McKinsey & Co. says medical tourism could become a $2 billion-a-year business in India alone by 2012; the category is so new it previously wasn't measured..."

I can think of a lot more factors that make this a more lucrative proposition - read fewer malpractice/ litigation costs, allied recovery costs and overheads, etc. What if insurance companies agree to fund travel costs for offshore treatment, and even promote incentives that propel such decisions? Well, the issue is not unexplored - the following website offers comprehensive information on the possibilities of medical tourism.


Another example of a truth poser that raises the debate between efficient markets and government intervention.

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