Why global health insurance brokers should promote medical tourism ?

The world is shrinking; and many companies have become large multinationals , with  presence in countries all across the globe. Providing employee benefits is one of their key responsibilities, and since this has become such a challenging task, they outsource this to companies which specialise in administering and harmonising these benefits. Typically, they use a single health insurance broker to provide life insurance and health insurance coverage to all their employees across the globe.

Since there such a huge price differential between elective high ticket surgical procedures performed in India and the US ( for example, for knee replacement), I was wondering why health insurance brokers do not take advantage of this and offer medical tourism packages as part of their service offerings.

Let’s take the example of an employee in Washington DC who needs hip replacement. If the cost for this in a Washington hospital is US $ 50,000; and a hospital in India can do the exact same surgery using the same artificial hip manufactured by the same manufacturer , for US $ 10,000 wouldn’t it make sense to fly the employee down to India for this surgery ?

Health insurance brokers are very well positioned to be able to identify hospitals all across the world which meet JCAHO standards, thus ensuring safety, while saving money as well.

In fact, the quality of care at some of these “focussed factories” would be far better than what would be available in the “local” US hospital !

Smart patients are already taking advantage of the superb cost effective care medical tourism service packages offer them on an individual basis. Why don’t corporates learn from them, and make good use of these lessons ?

Suggested Reading : Jaipur Foot: Making people walk across the world (The article talks about the price differential of Jaipur foot and how it is becoming popular with global acceptance due to medical tourism)

This is a Guest Editorial reproduced by Kind permission of Dr Anirrudha Malpani. This article is not copyrighted under CCL.

Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD is a Consultant IVF Specialist from Mumbai,India  and is the Founder and Medical Director, HELP, (Health Education Library for People) . He blogs at : http://blog.drmalpani.com/

Image Courtesy : Naciketa Datta under CCL

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post and the views/opinions expressed  in the article are solely that of the author.References and figures (if any) are not verified by the Editor for Guest Editorials. The incidents about patient experiences (if any) stated in this blog are highly fictionalised and any resemblance to any person(living or dead)and/or incident  is purely co-incidental.

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3 thoughts on “Why global health insurance brokers should promote medical tourism ?

  1. Manasa Bhandarkar says:

    I certainly agree with the view that from a free-market perspective, wide support of medical tourism makes sense. I also have experienced, firsthand, the high quality medical care provided in India. This is a complex issue though. For India, the increased publicity of high-profile medical tourism cases would help greatly, but we also need to make sure it doesn’t detract from the focus of health care for the rest of the population there. Obviously, a lot of work needs to be done from the public health and primary care (especially in rural areas) setting there. The general opinion of the less-informed medical “consumer” (patient) outside of India is that they simply don’t know much about the options for medical care offered abroad. There is also the concern among health care professionals in the US that if medical tourism picks up, it must be regulated well, with proper adherence to universal standards.

    1. Soumyadeep B says:

      Well I guess the real concern in the Indian scenarion at the moment is the growing divide between what many call the diff b/w “India and Bharat”.. those who are financially well (inclusive of the middle class) are fgetting good quality care but the millions of poor have no acess to healthcare.. with the highprofile focus on the Indian Medical system.. it might make the governemnt more savvy towards the India.. rather than concentrating on developing Bharat to India…
      Also i think the concerns of US physicians is aired to just ward off as much as possible “their loss of business”. Free market means that customers (i dont approve the term though) will come to the place where there is cheap and QUALITY product.. India does provide the best in lot.. In case you have missed just read the article . :
      : Jaipur Foot: Making people walk across the world
      it tells the sucess of how India provides not only the cheapest but also the best product in this sector.

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