From Tummy Tucks in Bangkok to Dental Tourism in Mexico

Outsourcing Offsets Rising Costs, a Major Problem in Healthcare

An increasing number of big businesses in the US are eyeing cheap healthcare facilities in the developing world for employee health coverage. Employers, always on the lookout for cost trimming measures are more than willing to consider exploring cheap healthcare options overseas. Reliance on the health tourism industry, whether in the form of cardiac procedures in India or dental tourism in Mexico, employers hope, will help them curtail through-the-roof spending on healthcare.

Cheap Healthcare: Critics Resist any Large Scale Plans for Health Outsourcing

Much like the uproar that followed outsourcing of call centers to India and manufacturing processes to China, the healthcare industry too has its share of self-styled do-gooders who have been adamant about their opposition to any long term outsourcing plans. In September 2006, Blue Ridge Paper Products, a North Carolina based company, was all set to send one of its employees abroad as part of an innovative new health insurance program, because rising costs are becoming such a major problem in healthcare. However, these plans were thwarted by United Steelworkers, the largest worker’s union in the country, and Blue Ridge was forced to scrap its outsourcing plans. This hasn’t stopped big businesses from hiring consultants to track the feasibility of healthcare outsourcing, and the general belief is that it’s just a matter of time before employers find a viable way around loopholes in the system.

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Do Your Homework before Opting for Cheap Healthcare Overseas

The number of Americans who opt for such health tourism alternatives in developing countries is rising steadily. Whether the travel is just across the border for dental tourism in Mexico or halfway around the world for a new hip in India, it’s likely that medical tourism will only become more entrenched in America’s healthcare system. Travelers who intend to go overseas for medical care are, however, advised to ask questions about the quality of services offered. Besides the usual concerns about jet lag and language barriers, the levels of pollution and poverty in most developing countries can be discomfiting to a potential medical tourist, to say the least. In addition, in many developing countries, malpractice suits are uncommon and ambulance chasers are practically nonexistent.

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