Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Uninsured Americans and the new Democratic Congress

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 30 November 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:1134

Rapid Response:

Medical tourism of India can be a boon for uninsured Americans.

Dear Sir, We want to point out here; the lack of health insurance in America should not be a matter of concern. As a medical tourist in another country, you can save as much as 80% of hospital cost. Because now your, dollars are actually going to the surgeons, anesthesiologists and other hospital workers who are attending to you during your surgical procedure. Whereas in the United States, your money is going to the insurance company and then the insurance company money is being used to pay paper shufflers.

Countries where medical tourism is being actively promoted include Greece, South Africa, Jordan, India, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore. India is a recent entrant into medical tourism. According to a study by McKinsey and the Confederation of Indian Industry, medical tourism in India could become a $1 billion business by 2012. The key “selling points” of the medical tourism industry are its “cost effectiveness” and its combination with the attractions of tourism. Price advantage is, of course, a major selling point. The cost differential across the board is huge: only a tenth and sometimes even a sixteenth of the cost in the West. Open-heart surgery could cost up to $70,000 in Britain and up to $150,000 in the US; in India’s best hospitals it could cost between $3,000 and $10,000. Knee surgery (on both knees) costs 350,000 rupees ($7,700) in India; in Britain this costs £10,000 ($16,950), more than twice as much. Dental, eye and cosmetic surgeries in Western countries cost three to four times as much as in India.

The recent growth of medical tourism in India can be boon for those who don’t have health insurance in America. Then the health insurance system of America should be changed if the American government is serious about the health care system in the country and in our point of view it can be achieved by low cost and good health care.

Dr. Uwe E Reinhardt hope for a universal health insurance will be fruitful when there will be change in the health insurance law. If the present scenario does not change, the developing countries like India can take advantage of the situation.

Competing interests: None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

02 December 2006
Soubhagya R. Nayak
Ashwin Krishnamurthy, Latha V. Prabhu
Kasturba Medical College, Bejai, Mangalore-575004, India.