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Medical tourism polls and surveys at MedTripInfo

by David Williams

In Medical Tourism: What questions should health plans and employers be asking? I asked payers to think hard about their stance on medical tourism. The industry is new and it remains to be seen whether medical tourism (or my preferred term “international medical travel”) will penetrate the realm of traditional benefits.

I’m interested in others’ views on these and other medical tourism topics, so have started posting simple polls and surveys on MedTripInfo for readers to share and discuss their views. The current question is “By the year 2010, what percent of US health insurers will routinely pay for patients to travel abroad for surgery?

There’s also a section in the discussion forums for readers to comment on previous questions.

1 Comment »

  Don wrote @ August 14th, 2007 at 10:18 am

Hi David,

I think the lid is going to blow off the top. For example, I like you would have preferred our industry being called “international Medical Travel” or anything besides “Medical Tourism.” But neither you nor I are going to change what the public has christened it to be. We’re also not going to change the fact that the patient searches for the best and most economical procedures he can find. And the Internet insures that he will find it. No one will convince him to stay home when price and better quality is over the ocean.

I could give several examples of this but will only tell of one. A friend of mine who is a health insurance general agent told me that he quit paying his own premiums two years ago when they reached $1,600 per month for just he and his wife for a $5,000 deductible policy.

He knew he had a bad hip and was going to have to do something, but monthly cost simply said, “stop!” He saved his premiums for two years and didn’t have to pay the deductible, but came to India where he told me he had saved at least $80,000. But the kicker comes from what else he said.

“If you had a very nice car, would you trust a transmission mechanic just out of vocational school to fix it or would you want the mechanic with the most experience? Well, when my transmission went out, I wanted the best mechanic I could find and that was Dr. Malhan!” These kinds of testimonials, cost savings, and advanced techniques in five star hospitals resembling a luxurious hotel room including a family member will not allow anyone wanting the best to stay home.

It’s amazing how many people, insurance companies, and employers are now thinking about this. It’s no longer so shocking to hear someone say, “I’m going to India for major surgery.” Only a year ago the family would say, “YOU’RE GOING WHERE!!!?” Not any more. The information age has settled that.

While my company, America’s Medical Solutions, was only organized a year ago, the growth in our entire industry has been phenominal. So, I don’t think 25% of the US health insurors will even bat an eyelash at people converting their health plans to include qualified foreign health care. I think we’re going to see something of a back lash from the public — even those with insurance — opting for something cheaper, demanding more advanced techniques, and as it turns out, much, much better care than what is available at home. For instance the hip resurfacing that has really come of age in India over the last four years with thousands of these procedures done in India, has only just come to the USA.

I could be wrong about the 25%, and would only qualify my answer to say it might even be higher. I also think there is something chique to say, “I’m going to have my surgery done in India.” And I think just the next twelve months are going to be mind bending in terms of how much more new business in this arena world-wide is going to be done. The quality and pricing simply demands it. World competition has arrived, and it’s too late for the USA to do anything about it. Lastly, I see them joining the revolution rather than fighting it as they really have no chance overcoming this.


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