More U.S. Residents Seeking Treatment Abroad
U.S. patients requiring surgery are increasingly traveling to foreign countries where the cost of procedures is less than at U.S. hospitals, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, WebMD Medical News reports.
Mark Smith -- president and CEO of the California HealthCare Foundation and co-author of the report -- said "medical refugees" are traveling to countries such as India, Thailand and Singapore for procedures ranging from coronary bypass to hip and knee replacements.
The report profiles patients who sought treatment overseas because they could not afford private health insurance and insured workers who are being encouraged to receive a procedure outside of the U.S. at a lower cost.
Vishal Bali -- CEO of the Wockhardt Hospitals Group in Mumbai, India -- says there has been a 45% increase in Americans seeking treatment at his hospitals during the past two years.
Smith said that the downside to receiving foreign treatment is that there is less legal recourse if a patient is harmed in a hospital overseas.
To compete with this growing trend, the U.S. health care system must work toward reducing costs and improving efficiency and quality, Smith said (Ansorge, WebMD Medical News, 10/18).