Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Key to Affordable Health Care?

Steve Forbes recently wrote in his Fact and Fiction Column (Open-Heart Surgery -- 90% Off!, August 13, 2007) that certain countries are developing a flourishing medical tourism that is resulting in substantial savings to customers. Check out some of the recent numbers (US on the left, India on the right):

Bone Marrow Transplant $400,000 vs. $30,000

Liver Transplant $500,000 vs. $40,000

Open-heart Surgery $50,000 vs. $4,000

Neurosurgery $29,000 vs. $8,000

Knee Surgery $16,000 vs. $4,500

These procedures are being delivered with the same high standards expected in the United States. The Joint Commission International (the accrediting organization for foreign hospitals) was established by the Joint Commission, which accredits US hospitals. What is important is that they have the same standards.

So how do Indian hospitals do it at such a low price? Steve Forbes offers the following: Excellent hospitals can be built overseas without the bureaucratic red tape found in the US, thereby saving construction time. Construction costs are lower, as are nursing, physician and administrative expenses. Expert doctors who have trained here and in Europe are returning home, where money goes considerably further than in, say, New York or California. More and more these foreign hospitals -- currently numbering about 120, and growing -- are not just mirring the best US practices but are emerging as innovators."

Most "solutions" to our health care crises are government driven in this country, but the real solution in other countries are coming from the market and not bureaucracy. We need market solutions, not government failures.

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