Friday, March 31, 2006


Medical Tourism

Turns out I was wrong about the medical tourism market—it is worth over $2 billion in India! And India is only one of the countries involved in medical/health tourism. Countries like Argentina, South Africa, Malaysia, Turkey, and Thailand can also boast of private hospitals with world-class facilities, qualified doctors and surgeons, and very modest costs.

This month there was even a conference on medical tourism in Mumbai. India’s cost advantage was described with examples: cardiac surgery costs $4000-$9000, orthopedic surgery $4,500, dental surgery is even cheaper. All these are at a fraction of the costs in the US and other countries. As an illustration Bone Marrow Transplant costs $300,000 in the US, $62,500 in Thailand, and $30,000 in India.

Add to this the cost of travel and stay in India, which would be under $1,500 in most cases, and you have affordable medical treatment. But as the conference showed there are other sweeteners to medical tourism:

“The other advantages are that most metros have good infrastructure, majority of population speak English and Indian surgeons have world class skills and surgical exposure. India should provide the best of Eastern and Western healthcare systems. Ayurveda, Yoga and Siddha can be India’s gift to the world. “Ayurveda is recognised as an official healthcare system in Hungary. Doctors in the West are increasingly prescribing Indian Systems of Medicine. More than 70 per cent of the American population prefer a natural approach to health,” he added. Americans are said to spend around $25 billion on non-traditional medical therapies and products.

Several companies are getting into this business. This company provides the following services to prospective clients:
Suggesting Hospitals/Clinics as per treatment required/budget.
Arranging consultations with doctors
Assisting in planning treatment /check up with appointment fixing and travel scheduling
Airport Pick up
Stay arrangements , pre-hospitalization and post -hospitalization
Arranging accommodation for family members and attendants
Travel arrangements
Coordinating all appointments

For a foreign perspective on this phenomenon see The Economist and CBC News. There is already a US-based agency called MedRetreat, which provides information and services to the medical tourists from their country.

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