Medical tourism in India gets a huge boost

As per a story in NYT, Wellpoint, a big health insurer in US, is testing a new program that provides patients the option of going to India for medical surgery. The plan includes no out of pocket expenses for the patient and includes free travel for the patient and a companion. 

The cost savings are just too big to ignore – knee surgery that costs about $70k in the US costs around $8k in India. 

For those who are familiar with it, it wont shock them when I say that the health sector in the US is pretty darn screwed up. Wait times to get an appointment with a family doctor can run into several months. For specialists, the case is even worse. Several people of Indian origin have already been doing this — visiting India for major medical procedure, assuming that its a non emergency medical situation. 

This is big news for startups and entrepreneurs in the field of medical tourism. Hopefully, other insurers also start testing out such programs and who knows, medical tourism in India might witness a huge boom.

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7 comments

  1. Actually you are mistaken. The problem with the American health care system has very little to do with wait times for appointments. Maybe you are confused with Canada where everone has public health insurance and therefore there are long waits for those who use the public services. In the USA it is usually easy to get an appointment unless you want to see a top doctor in a specialty which of course will be a little backed up. With that said they are in the future predicting a physician shortage.

    Anyway the major problem is spiraling costs and the millions who can not afford health insurance

  2. Getting an appointment for the first time with even a family physician extends to a month or two in some states unless you know a physician well enough to squeeze you in. Getting an appointment with a specialist though is really bad. And that is partly responsible for patients either not seeking care soon or ending up in the ERs/urgent care.

  3. Here’s the link from a WSJ article- wait time for a first appointment with a primary care doc in Massachusetts can be as long as 100 days. The same is true for many other states.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2008/09/22/want-to-see-a-primary-care-doc-in-massachusetts-take-a-number/

  4. thanks priyanka for the link. It pretty much nails the question raised by Pranav above.

    Healthcare in US is a nightmare..no matter what your experience has been.

  5. Who all are the players/startups in the healthcare/medical tourism in India? And how successful have they been?
    can some one help?

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