Friday, December 15, 2006

Medical Refugees

Report from the Wired magazine.

As startling numbers of Americans go without health insurance, more of them see their only hope in fleeing to far-flung nations like India for life-saving medical treatments.

The dearth of affordable health insurance has engendered a new breed of what the New England Journal of Medicine classifies as "medical refugees" -- patients traveling abroad for heart surgery and other crucial procedures -- that has grown sharply in the past two years.

In 2005, 46 million Americans -- or about 15 percent of the total population -- lacked health insurance, according to a Census Bureau study. For families who don't qualify for Medicare but can't afford private coverage, a sudden accident or illness could lead to financial disaster.

The situation in the United States and other countries where health care is expensive will contribute to tourists spending $2 billion on medical procedures in India by 2012, according to a study by McKinsey and the Confederation of Indian Industry.

The phenomenon of "medical tourists" -- people who casually travel to foreign lands for face lifts or breast implants -- has been well documented. But the new exodus of patients are looking for more essential care. Indian hospitals welcome these sick travelers with open arms, often lavishing them with more attention than they could expect in their home country.

Read the full article. Very interesting.


Publia said...

Not surprising because there are a lot of doctors in the USA who received their initial medical training in India. Lawsuits greatly raise the cost of medical care in the USA, and doctors also are very highly paid.

Publia said...

Oh, and look! Comments work again!!