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“Ten years ago, medical tourism was hardly large enough to be noticed. Today, more than 250,000 patients per year visit Singapore alone–nearly half of them from the Middle East. This year, approximately half a million foreign patients will travel to India for medical care, whereas in 2002, the number was only 150,000.”1

“The cost of surgery in India, Thailand or South Africa can be one-tenth of what it is in the United States or Western Europe, and sometimes even less. A heart-valve replacement that would cost $200,000 or more in the U.S., for example, goes for $10,000 in India–and that includes round-trip airfare and a brief vacation package. Similarly, a metal-free dental bridge worth $5,500 in the U.S. costs $500 in India, a knee replacement in Thailand with six days of physical therapy costs about one-fifth of what it would in the States, and Lasik eye surgery worth $3,700 in the U.S. is available in many other countries for only $730. Cosmetic surgery savings are even greater: A full facelift that would cost $20,000 in the U.S. runs about $1,250 in South Africa.”1

“The Institute of Medicine (2004) estimates that about 18,000 Americans die each year from treatable conditions because they cannot afford healthcare.”1

“In a field where experience is as important as technology, Escorts Heart Institute and Research Center in Delhi and Faridabad, India, performs nearly 15,000 heart operations every year, and the death rate among patients during surgery is only 0.8 percent–less than half that of most major hospitals in the United States.”1

“As per World Health Report 2000, France’s health system performance was ranked first in overall performance, Singapore sixth, United Kingdom 18th, Canda 30th, USA 37th and Thailand 47th.”3

“In some countries, clinics are backed by sophisticated research infrastructures as well. India is among the world’s leading countries for biotechnology research, while both India and South Korea are pushing ahead with stem cell research at a level approached only in Britain. In many foreign clinics, too, the doctors are supported by more registered nurses per patient than in any Western facility, and some clinics provide single-patient rooms that resemble guestrooms in four-star hotels, with a nurse dedicated to each patient 24 hours a day.”1

“The top eight countries of origin of foreign physicians in the US are all developing countries.” 2

“Unlike many of its competitors in medical tourism, India also has the technological sophistication and infrastructure to maintain its market niche, and Indian pharmaceuticals meet the stringent requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Additionally, India’s quality of care is up to American standards, and some Indian medical centers even provide services that are uncommon elsewhere. For example, hip surgery patients in India can opt for a hip-resurfacing procedure, in which damaged bone is scraped away and replaced with chrome alloy–an operation that costs less and causes less post-operative trauma than the traditional replacement procedure performed in the U.S.”1

“According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (2002), over 71 percent of hospital costs are labor related, which helps explain why countries with low labor costs have a significant cost advantage in medical treatments.”2

“Between 46.2% and 54.5% of all bankruptcies (midpoint estimate 50.35%) were caused, at least in part, by illness or medical debts.”4

“Apollo hospital chain based in India has treated over 60,000 foreign patients over the last three years in a number of specialties, especially cardiac surgery and orthopedics. It has maintained a success rate of 99 percent in the over 50,000 cardiac surgeries performed, which is in par with surgical rates of some of the best cardiac surgery centers (e.g., Cleveland Clinic) in the US.”2

“About half cited medical causes, which indicates that 1.9–2.2 million Americans (filers plus dependents) experienced medical bankruptcy. Among those whose illnesses led to bankruptcy, out-of-pocket costs averaged $11,854 since the start of illness; 75.7 percent had insurance at the onset of illness. Medical debtors were 42 percent more likely than other debtors to experience lapses in coverage. Even middle-class insured families often fall prey to financial catastrophe when sick.”5

Sources:

  1. Tourism Growing Worldwide, UDaily News, July, 2005
  2. Health Insurance Impede Trade in Health Care Services?. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, July 2005
  3. World Health Report 2000 – Health systems: Improving performance, World Health Organization
  4. Bankruptcy – Fact Sheet, PNHP
  5. Watch: Illness & Injury as Contributors to Bankruptcy, February 2005

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