There have been a lot of articles over the past year about Americans traveling overseas to countries like India, Thailand, and South Africa to get elective surgeries like joint replacements, heart surgery, and plastic surgery performed. Sometimes it is at the urging of their health insurer.
The Star Tribune reported that the nation's second largest insurer, Wellpoint, will offer Wisconsin-based Serigraph Inc. and its employees the ability to go to India for elective surgeries. Serigraph will pay all of the medical costs. There will be no out of pocket expenses. Travel is paid for as well for the patient and a companion.
"Knee replacement surgery that costs between $60,000 and $70,000 in the United States can be done in India for $8,000 to $10,000, said Jill Becher, a Wellpoint spokeswoman."
The NY Times reported how South Korea has added its medical facilities and staff to be available to Americans. Shockingly a report by the consulting group Deloitte found that "750,000 Americans sought cheaper treatment abroad, a figure projected to reach 6 million by 2010".
The Wall Street Journal earlier this year cited a report by the consulting group McKinsey which suggested that overseas medical travel was posed for future growth.
What does this mean? In the future, you might get the same excellent surgical care overseas for a lot less to your pocketbook, particularly as you are becoming increasingly responsible for healthcare costs. You might even get the opportunity to sightsee as well.
The other? Doctors will begin to discover that like auto workers, their jobs can indeed be outsourced. If we as a medical profession don't see this challenge, then we may very well suffer the same fate as that of the big three automakers, Ford, GM, and Chrysler, who as we speak are looking to the government for a multibillion dollar bailout. Don't think it can happen? That's what the UAW thought as well.