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Hunting for Health

Dec 25, 2008
As if our health care system weren’t in enough of a shambles, look out now for a sharp increase in “health tourism,” the international hunt for the best, most affordable health care. Traffic to Southeast Asia in pursuit of medical procedures is expected to grow 20 percent a year, to become a $4 billion industry by 2012.

Deloitte Consulting has concentrated its study on Southeast Asia, though doubtless many of their findings pertain to the entire globe. Medical Tourism: The Asian Chapter (.pdf, 413Kb) reports that medical procedures in SE Asia often cost only 20 to 30 percent of what they cost in the U.S. (including transportation and accommodation), and countries such as Singapore, Thailand, India, and Malaysia are busily acquiring state-of-the-art medical equipment and facilities in order to present a credible face to the world as an alternative source of medical care.

Heart bypass surgery costs $80,000 to $130,000 in the U.S. and only $6,700 to $9,300 in India. If you were a candidate for such a procedure, among the 100 million un- or underinsured Americans, relatively sure you would receive excellent treatment in a modern facility, perhaps even operated on by a U.S. physician, what would you do?

We know we pay twice as much in this country for medical care that is of significantly less quality than that of the rest of the civilized world. (See our various posting on health care.) If our entire medical industry is not to be threatened with imploding through domestic and international pressures, the Obama administration must confront its weaknesses. When it does, we are confident that the need for universal, single-payer, federally managed health care will carry the day.
tags: Health

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