June 17, 2006


India offers surgery in a hurry (PRITHI YELAJA, 6/17/06, Toronto Star)

When his doctor in Nova Scotia treated his chest pain with cholesterol pills and a wait-and-see attitude, Richard Johnson decided to get a second opinion — and ended up fast-tracked into surgery to open his blocked arteries.

To get it he came halfway around the world, to Escorts Heart Institute & Research Centre in New Delhi, a high-tech private hospital directed by Dr. Naresh Trehan, a New York University-trained Indian cardiac surgeon Johnson found on the Web. [...]

[J]ohnson is on the leading edge of a trend: "medical tourists" from Europe and North America who seem willing to overlook the poverty, teeming streets and decrepit airports of India if it means circumventing long wait times and high costs for health care.

For Canadians, who will have to pay out of pocket even for medically necessary care, speed is the crucial attraction.

Getting care in Canada, Johnson says, is like a visit to the motor vehicles office: "You take a number and wait. We put up with that because we don't know better. The system we have sucks."

Procedures in India cost one-third to one-tenth what they would in the United States — $6,000 (U.S.) for typical cardiac surgery, versus $30,000.

As a bonus, patients may be treated with advanced techniques not routinely available back home. Ninety per cent of open-heart surgeries at the Apollo chain of 33 hospitals, for example, are done without shutting down the heart — easier on the patient but more challenging for the surgeon.

Foreign patients, who pay about 25 per cent more than Indians, can also opt for a vacation package deal with airport transfers, deluxe hospital room, mobile phone and sightseeing.

Which nation is Third World?

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 17, 2006 8:52 AM
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