Say Bye To US Dominance In Health Care

Posted by Jason | Posted in Health Care | Posted on 21-11-2009

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The Wall Street Journal has a great article about a surgeon from India who is revolutionizing heart surgery through specialization and volume.

BANGALORE — Hair tucked into a surgical cap, eyes hidden behind thick-framed magnifying glasses, Devi Shetty leans over the sawed open chest of an 11-year-old boy, using bright blue thread to sew an artificial aorta onto his stopped heart.

As Dr. Shetty pulls the thread tight with scissors, an assistant reads aloud a proposed agreement for him to build a new hospital in the Cayman Islands that would primarily serve Americans in search of lower-cost medical care. The agreement is inked a few days later, pending approval of the Cayman parliament.

Dr. Shetty, who entered the limelight in the early 1990s as Mother Teresa’s cardiac surgeon, offers cutting-edge medical care in India at a fraction of what it costs elsewhere in the world. His flagship heart hospital charges $2,000, on average, for open-heart surgery, compared with hospitals in the U.S. that are paid between $20,000 and $100,000, depending on the complexity of the surgery.

Then there are the Cayman Islands, where he plans to build and run a 2,000-bed general hospital an hour’s plane ride from Miami. Procedures, both elective and necessary, will be priced at least 50% lower than what they cost in the U.S., says Dr. Shetty, who hopes to draw Americans who are uninsured or need surgery their plans don’t cover.

via The Henry Ford of Heart Surgery – WSJ.com.

What our politicians hate and don’t understand is you cannot control the free market and you can only harm yourself by attempting to do so. As you can see, Dr. Shetty will be opening a hospital in the Cayman Islands hoping to capture some of the US market. While our government continues to drive up our health care costs, foreign doctors see a profit opportunity. I’m guessing you will see a huge trend in this direction. If he can do surgery for a few thousand dollars, you will see people flocking. People spend more on insurance in a few months than it would cost for heart surgery at this hospital. Expand this model to other forms of medical care, and you will see global health care eat away at the US market.

The free market will create more an more services to help Americans get to these places. You will see medical transport services helping Americans to get to these places. You could see American doctors leaving to work in these places. How about American doctors being able to work from the US via some video stream? They’d be able to work outside the US restrictions from his US location. Thanks to our politicians,  you will see the economic power of the US moving away from the US. Say goodbye to our long term dominance.

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