American citizens are increasingly undergoing medical treatment in India as hospitals in India offer competitive and transparent pricing that allows Americans to save money on medical procedures. In some cases, Americans may be placed in a situation that forces them to have to pay $30,000 to even $100,000 for a complex medical procedure. If the patient’s insurance does not cover this cost and they are not able to receive support from the Free Market Medical Association, then they should examine hospitals in India. In this blog post, we provide information about how American patients can some money on various medical procedures when seeking treatment in India and also mention some of the favorable characteristics of medical tourism and hospitals in India.
Private Hospitals in India stand out based on cost, transparency and quality
Though many patients are initially drawn to India for medical tourism so that they can save money on medical procedures, it is also crucial to note that patients are also very impressed by the quality of services as well. Thus, medical tourism in India and Asia in general has become more about providing high quality standards at affordable costs, and hospitals in India consequently do not have to compete on price alone. Other key supporting factors include the pricing transparency, which allows patients to make educated costs and determine how much money that they are able to save. We included a link for a video below, which describes why Americans are flocking to India to receive complex medical procedures such as cardiac surgery, joint replacement surgery, hip replacements, gastrointestinal procedures and spinal procedures.
In a previous blog post, we noted how people in the United States were able to save money on medical procedures by considering markets such as India and Thailand. Below are some of the main price discrepancies that we noted based on data from an RVO report published in 2014:
- A heart bypass surgery can be performed for around $5,000 in India compared to over $100,000 in the United States.
- A hip replacement surgery can be performed for around $7,000 in India compared to around $50,000 in the United States.
- A knee replacement surgery can be performed for around $6,200 in India compared to around $50,000 in the United States
- A spinal fusion surgery costs $6,500 in India compared to $100,000 in the United States
- We also noted that a patient traveled to India in 2015 to obtain a hepatitis C drug at 1% of the cost of the similar drug in the United States
The low cost benefits are very clear, and with an abundance of JCI accredited hospitals in the country, American citizens are able to save money on medical procedures while still accessing high quality services. After talking to some people in the US about various treatments, I noticed that some people stated that the prices for their surgery ( ie. knee replacement) were actually more expensive in some cases. What should concern most people is that the United States healthcare system is not very transparent in its pricing, which allows other hospitals in India to outperform US hospitals based on low costs and transparency, while also offering high quality services.
India’s medical tourism industry is booming and already has a favorable image
According to India’s Ministry of Tourism, India’s medical tourism industry could grow by 200% by 2020 to reach $9 billion. India was ranked as the 3rd most popular destination for medical tourism in 2015, at a time when the industry was only worth $3 billion. Around 230,000 foreign tourists came into the country on medical visas during this year. Moreover, it is also crucial to note that India is also a highly appealing and low cost tourism destination (Incredible India), which offers lower costs compared to that of other hospitals in emerging Asia such as Thailand and Malaysia. American citizens can apply for a medical visa and they are also very easily able to obtain 5-10 year multiple entry tourist visas.
Potential for India’s medical tourism industry to attract American and European medical tourists: As of 2017, most of India’s medical tourist came from countries such as Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq, Oman and multiple countries in Africa. This reflects that some of the main drivers for India’s medical tourism at the moment include other countries that have a lack of accessibility to complex procedures. However, a new future catalyst that could support the sustainable growth of India’s medical tourism industry includes patients that come from the United States and even Europe for cost savings benefits, as they could save circa 90% in some cases.
India can be a breath of relief for Americans caught in desperate medical situations: In many cases, uninsured patients in the United States would not be able to pay for complex surgeries from hospitals. Moreover, they have to apply to be accepted to receive surgeries from the Free Market Medical Association, which still charges more than other hospitals in India and Thailand in some cases. In a recent article published on Foreign Policy, an American patient noted that surgery was going to set him back over $100,000 and that he would not be able to afford it because of his financial situation. The entire surgery in India, included a three week trip, ended up costing him around $10,000.
Conclusion: India’s leading private hospitals offer a great blend of quality and cost effective treatment
We see India’s medical tourism industry in a position to grow rapidly and to begin attracting medical tourists from developed markets such as Europe and particularly the United States in the future. This will be driven by the fact that India is in a sweet spot in terms of its quality of offerings and low costs, which will inevitably support the growth of medical tourism in India. If you are caught in a tough situation in the United States and are unable to afford the surgery, then examining solutions in markets such as India could provide you with the best option in terms of both quality and cost. The abundance of high quality offerings in this market can allow you to save money on medical procedures while simultaneously receiving high quality services from hospitals in India.