Offshoring U.S. Patients No Cure for Ailing Healthcare System

For several years now, American healthcare consumers, consisting of many from other western industrialized nations, have heard about optional surgical procedures being carried out in lesser-developed international locations and due to value and denial of coverage by way of health insurance vendors have opted to go there. However, surgeries in the past had been truly non-obligatory and not medically indispensable tactics that mostly consisted of face-lifts, tummy tucks and gastric bypasses for beauty purposes.

But simply in the previous two years, American sufferers are being wooed to make decisions on serious medically vital surgeries due to their fears of immoderate healthcare costs. And the choice includes visiting abroad especially to India and Thailand in order to get hold of such health center care which they require.

For those self-insured, underinsured, or now not insured at all, the desperation of receiving clinical care except sacrificing houses or assets in the method is plausible, for the reason that expenses of comparable approaches in South Asia vary from 75% – 80% less than in the United States. But now U.S. based totally corporations have entered the area as well with the aid of encouraging personnel to go to India and Thailand by way of cash incentives, free airfare and hotel stays with no co-pays due on the closing bill.

Yet, simply as with any large buy consumers must look beyond the fancy advertisements and read the first-rate print with a Buyer Beware mentality. Americans have turn out to be pretty adept at learning what to appear for when dealing with automobile dealerships when buying an car and with pc retailers when buying a new computer. But it has taken many years to train shoppers as to their rights and protections beneath the law and what to do when some thing does go wrong.

The term “medical tourism” has been inaccurately applied to what is genuinely the offshoring of sufferers of the U.S. healthcare device to overseas countries, in order to enchantment to attainable customers who are honestly clinical patients. The term used to be invented by way of the media and it stuck and is now being used as a marketing tool. Deceptive in its concept, it is an implication that a affected person can go sightseeing earlier than or after a serious medical institution manner in that foreign country. But for those who are extra scrupulous it remains hard to get the vital facts wanted to make a reasoned choice on whether or not to have surgical procedure performed, let on my own midway around the world.

There are now corporations being touted as scientific tourism agencies that have cropped up throughout the U.S. in order to facilitate such care distant places for character patients as nicely as to serve as a clearinghouse for corporations wishing to outsource their employees’ healthcare with them in tow. These companies include MedSolution, GlobalChoice Healthcare, IndUShealth, Planet Healthcare and Med Retreat, to title just a few.

And with extra and extra corporations adding pick foreign hospitals as Preferred Providers to their employees’ fitness insurance plan plans, clinical tourism groups take care of the forms and tour arrangements for their employees. Other countries of vacation spot encompass Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Panama, Mexico, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey and South Africa.

However, it is at this factor that the patient needs to start their own due diligence. There is typically a requirement by using most U.S. healthcare insurance plan providers for sufferers to get second opinions for most difficult surgical procedures in the U.S., however not so for offshore surgeries. And the list of surgeries which are being despatched offshore are indeed medically critical however confusingly being said to the media as elective. But you can determine for your self whether or not or now not the following are optionally available procedures: cardiac bypass, cardiac stent implantation, cardiac angioplasty, knee replacement, hip replacement, mastectomy, hysterectomy, chemotherapy, eye surgery, vascular surgery, amongst others.

And as the scientific tourism business enterprise is only an intermediary between the purchaser and the sanatorium as properly as between lodges and airways they do now not supply any legal responsibility in the event that there is a medical complication or there is a mishap at the destination hospital. Furthermore, there are fees which ought to arise now not documented by an employer nor enterprise which could require additional prices upon the patient’s arrival. And as a conduit between affected person and hospital, the clinical tourism business remains an unregulated enterprise in the U.S., besides licensing requirements and with most managed with the aid of non-medical personnel.

Similarly, and unbeknownst to most U.S. sufferers is that the healthcare industry in India is fantastically unregulated. It was only in 2006 that guidelines related to the medical gadget industry, which consists of surgical units such as cardiac stents and orthopedic implants for use in hip and knee replacements, was once mandated. Such name for law from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) only came about as the end result of observed faulty drug eluting cardiac stents in 2004. And even though hospitals have the option of applying for accreditation via the Joint International Commission established in 1999, a subsidiary of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, used for hospitals in the U.S., there is no such requirement to do so.

As of 2006 there are five hospitals in India which have JCI accreditation, renewable every three years. They include the three facilities of the Apollo Hospital group, the Shruff Eye Hospital and the Wockhardt Hospital. The Bumrungrad International in Bangkok is Thailand’s sole JCI hospital. Singapore has over a dozen JCI hospitals however, and the Philippines has one. But the JCI accreditation solely applies especially to medical institution administration which though consists of processes to limit hazard of contamination and disease and to make sure affected person safety, it has no jurisdiction over the genuine doctors performing surgical procedures.

The patient is furnished restrained statistics other than an introductory smartphone name to the meant physician and having medical information electronically despatched to the medical doctor or medical institution via the internet through the clinical tourism agency. The patient has a choice of physicians, but unlike in the U.S. the place there is convenient get right of entry to to a doctor’s clinical reputation by way of medical boards and organizations, different than understanding whether or not the doctor may also have practiced medicine in the U.S., there is little data to come by. Without standardized protocols it is tough for the patient to make a correct assessment.

When choices on a patient’s fitness is driven principally by way of fee it can impair the selection making process. There is little argument that healthcare expenses in the U.S. are bankrupting companies and labor unions and deceleration of escalation is nary in sight. With the healthcare enterprise being 15% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product and having risen in cost 75% for employers and 143% for personnel given that the yr 2000, the machine is broken. High malpractice insurance prices required through both employers and physicians, medical institution deregulation and category action scientific litigations have only exacerbated the problem.

Such excessive clinical expenses will solely inspire confined get right of entry to to healthcare for the center category and in the end end result in much less preventative care costing taxpayers greater in the long run. The hassle is no longer the scientific care in the U.S., nevertheless regarded the great in the world, however its shipping system. It is when Medicare and the fitness insurance plan vendors grew to be the choice makers and took that power away from the doctors that the machine commenced to unravel. Added to that is the lack of restraint of expenses by way of the pharmaceutical industry which costs U.S. sufferers greater for its personal medications than any different united states of america in the world.

But as pricey as healthcare is in the U.S., there are prison and protection problems which are section of the American fabric which Americans very a good deal take for granted yet count on but are not current in the undeveloped world. For example, there are few regulatory our bodies such as the Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, a number clinical boards, customer safety laws, accessible prison specialists and the courtroom system. All serve as a net of safeguards supplying remedies. But in contrast to a vehicle purchase, scientific care is a elaborate assignment in which there are no guarantees, but there are areas of compliance which ought to be maintained.

Once the patient is in a overseas us of a there is little safety for redress and as soon as that affected person leaves the us of a ought to they want follow-up care such as therapy or if problems arise even throughout travel, they ought to searching for clinical care in the U.S. Secondarily, if the technique is carried out overseas, insurance plan carriers or Medicare may additionally not honor the additional required care in the U.S. Still, sufferers can also decide to take the dangers in addition to the inherent risks of any surgery, however have to now not be coerced into uninformed choices in order for their business enterprise to retailer expenses under the guise that they are helping to limit the expenses of U.S. healthcare in the long run.

In July 2006 the U.S. Senate Committee on Aging held a hearing called “The Globalization of Healthcare: Can Medical Tourism Reduce Healthcare Costs?” Its aim used to be to tackle the difficulty of clinical tourism, its growth, security of sufferers and feasible legislation of the enterprise itself. Its Committee Chairman, Senator Gordon H. Smith, has requested that quite a few federal groups such as the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Commerce and the Department of State create an interagency project pressure essential for lawmakers to reach informed decisions that healthcare shoppers themselves cannot precisely make at this juncture related to offshoring their clinical care.

And amongst the labor unions, the United Steelworkers Union (USW) has publicly weighed in on this issue when it discovered one of its union members, employed with the aid of Blue Ridge Paper Products, was going to be sent to India for gall bladder surgical operation simultaneously with shoulder surgery. Leo W. Gerard, USW International President, fired off a criticism dated September 11, 2006 to Congress with the aid of contacting the following committees: the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the House Committee on Ways and Means, the Senate Committee on Finance, and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

The aim is no longer necessarily to create greater legislation but to establish guidelines. Perhaps Mr. Gerard places it exceptional when he states, “The proper to safe, tightly closed and reliable fitness care in one’s own usa not be surrendered for any reason-certainly not to fatten the earnings margins of corporate investors.” He also contends to the Congress that “We continue to be steadfast in our dedication to rebuild a home healthcare system.”
Let us hope that our government and healthcare providers can likewise make such a dedication with the aid of investing in the health and welfare of the American people.

Copyright ?2006 Diane M. Grassi


Diane M. Grassi is a freelance columnist, reporting and writing commentary on contemporary occasions of the day presenting honest and often politically fallacious assessments. From U.S. public coverage to Major League Baseball, she is an eclectic thinker, and worrying of her readers to replicate on their personal questioning patterns from an alternative perspective. Whether you agree with her or not, Diane M. Grassi will have you coming again to observe her opinions, and if at best she wakes you up, then her aim will have been accomplished.

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