Business, Insurers Recommend Health Care Abroad
Some U.S. businesses and insurance companies are outsourcing health services to the developing world as a way to reduce health spending, the AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. Last year, about 500,000 U.S. residents traveled to countries like India, Singapore and Thailand for medical treatment.
The overseas hospitals, typically known for offering low-cost plastic surgery, "are now gaining reputations for" heart, knee and back operations, according to the AP/Post-Intelligencer.
Further fueling the trend, West Virginia Delegate Ray Canterbury (R-W.Va.) next year plans to propose legislation that would offer state employees the option of traveling abroad for their procedures, which could reduce state health spending by up to $2 million annually. Employees who choose to be treated abroad would be given incentives such as extra sick leave and 20% of the money the state saves.
According to the AP/Post-Intelligencer, critics of the trend say that U.S. patients face language and cultural barriers and other issues associated with traveling. In addition, medical malpractice claims are rare in countries like Thailand and India, the AP/Post-Intelligencer reports (Foster/Mason, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/2).