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Outsourcing Health Care

About a year ago, I told you about patients with little or no health insurance finding it far more affordable to travel to the Far East for their surgical procedures than having them done stateside. I'm not at all surprised to learn this trend of medical outsourcing is prospering big time overseas.

Up to recently, this trend had largely been a product of word-of-mouth testimonials and Web sites. Lately, however, the Indian government has gotten behind the movement, now offering year-long medical visas (that can be extended by 12 months) along with scheduling programs in other countries to advertise hospitals there.

Although a stunning 150,000 foreign-born patients made the trip to India for medical procedures, that's a far cry from the numbers who flocked to Singapore (200,000) and Thailand (600,000).

Another caveat: Because hygiene standards can be dramatically low and nursing care may be just as poor at certain hospitals in India, experts recommend it's important to shop around.

Obviously, some patients are convinced this outsourcing is the wave of the future. One retired NASA researcher bypassed the American health care system entirely -- and complete coverage for his recent hip replacement procedure -- for India.

Seattle Times September 25, 2005

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