Indian medical tourism is set to continue growing, despite efforts by the US government to curb the number of Americans travelling to the third world to find affordable healthcare.
Talking to reporters at a press conference last weekend, the chief vascular and cardiothoracic surgeon at the Fortis Group Hospitals in India, Dr. Vivek Javali, revealed that they expected the country’s medical tourism sector would continue to grow, because the high quality and affordability of healthcare here is simply far superior to anything that American and European countries can offer.
Dr. Javali, who is labeled the ‘father of cardiac surgery’ in his home country thanks to his more than 15,000 surgeries carried out so far, said that the global healthcare economics were stacked heavily in India’s favor.
“The simple reality is that ever-increasing numbers of Europeans and Americans are coming here, for complex surgery, cosmetics treatment, dental work etc. Indian medical tourism is going to keep on maturing,” said Javali.
President Obama has recently announced that he would make changes to the healthcare system in the US in order to persuade Americans to seek treatment at home, rather than destinations like India or Mexico.
“I would prefer it if you don’t need to go to India or Mexico to obtain affordable healthcare. I want people to be able to get high quality healthcare right here in the USA,” Obama said, when questioned about why medical expenses abroad are not covered by US health insurance policies.
However, while the president’s wishes may be a noble cause, simple economics may make it a futile one. When medical costs in the third world often less than a quarter of the price for a similar procedure back at home, and when you throw in an exotic holiday destination on top, it’s hard to beat countries like India.
Indeed, India’s medical tourism sector is growing at a rapid rate of almost 30% per year and officials expect the industry to be worth more than $2 billion a year by 2012. Currently, an estimated 150,000 Americans and Europeans visit India for low-cost healthcare services annualy.