When discussing the outsourcing of domestic industry abroad it’s not hard to find critics. But what about when it happens in healthcare?
This article from The Economist discusses the increase in intercontinental healthcare that’s being driven by market forces worldwide.
One motive is to save money. America’s health inflation has consistently outpaced economic growth, making it the most expensive health market in the world. The average price at good facilities abroad for a range of common medical procedures is, by Deloitte’s reckoning, barely 15% of the price a patient would have to pay in the United States (see table).
But costs have long been much higher in America than in poor countries, so this alone does not explain the new exodus. Two other factors are now at work. One is that the quality at the best hospitals in Asia and Latin America is now at least as good as it is at many hospitals in rich countries. The second, more worrying, factor is that America’s already imperfect insurance safety net is fraying.
Over 45m Americans are uninsured, and many millions more are severely underinsured. Such people may find it cheaper to fly abroad and pay for an operation out of their own pockets than to find the money for deductibles or “co-payments” charged for the same procedure at home. Arnold Milstein of Mercer, a consultancy, calls them America’s “medical refugees”.