Affordable Health Care and Medical Globalization

Affordable Health Care for the Average American

For the average American, affordable health care may mean booking the next dental visit to India or signing up for a medical tourism package to Thailand. Yes, medical tourism packages are becoming common because procedures such as gallbladder surgery and dental implants are cheaper for patients when outsourced to Asian or Eastern European countries. Patients who do not have affordable health care insurance at home are outsourcing bits and pieces of treatments to medical specialists in other countries to save money. Travel companies, noticing the trend, are offering Americans more and more medical tourism packages abroad to places like Thailand, India, Argentina, Hungary, and South Africa. Over 500,000 Americans now travel overseas annually to receive dental or medical care according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Coalition on Health Care.

Affordable health care insurance is beyond the reach of many Americans.

Forty-six million Americans lack standard health insurance, and120 million have no dental insurance. Insurance companies therefore look overseas to include foreign medical staff and clinics in their network in order to provide affordable healthcare for their customers. Perot Systems Corp.’s executive vice president for health care transformation, Dr. Kevin Fickenscher, sees the need for affordable health care and the lack of affordable health care insurance driving the outsourcing of medical treatment. In fact, certain features of the health care business, such as reading and analyzing of x-rays, are already being outsourced. “Pieces of the workflow can be done more efficiently on a virtual basis,” states Dr. Fickenscher.

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The Other Side of Outsourcing Affordable Health Care

Outsourcing can also work the other way, with healthcare providers recruiting foreign nurses and doctors to the United States. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that foreign-educated nurses make up 26% of the nurses in California and 6.7% of nurses in Texas. The average annual pay of $58,000 for nurses in the United States attracts nurses from Canada and the Philippines as well. Whether it’s a case of traveling abroad for medical treatment or foreign healthcare providers migrating to the United States, affordable health care insurance companies are making the most of medical care globalization.

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