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Expensive Surgery Available at Fraction of Cost Overseas

Don't you just love the world economy? Nations like India have allowed our tech sector to highly leverage the incredibly skilled professionals in their country so we can create software at a fraction of the price it would cost here. Now, some enterprising physicians have applied the same leverage and are able to dramatically reduce the cost of important life-saving operations.

I find it amazing they are able to reduce the cost of heart valve replacement surgery from about $200,000 in the U.S. to just $10,000, and that includes the cost of the airfare to India too! Even more surprising: An estimated 150,000 foreigners visited India for medical procedures, and that number by some 15 percent annually.

Patients from the United States and Europe still are relatively rare (although the Washington Post story features a carpenter needing heart valve replacement surgery), not only because of the distance they must travel. Hospital executives acknowledge India continues to suffer from an image of poverty and poor hygiene that discourages many patients.

It seems quite obvious to me India can be a vitally important part of the solution to the health care crisis in this country and serve as an inexpensive high quality back up for those very few people who will actually benefit from surgery.

Washington Post October 21, 2004

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