The US health care reforms may have a negative impact on healthcare tourism and off shoring of medical needs, including international travelling nurse jobs. It is yet unclear how the bill will impact medical tourism, but given that the target market for the medical tourism industry is about to vanish under the new and extended health insurance coverage plans, there will be interesting changes in how the industry operates in the future.
The medical tourism industry based its business on the premise that a large number of Americans were un-insured or under-insured. For all these Americans, insurance-less medical expense in the US itself was prohibitively costly. A simple dental procedure can cost upwards of $3000 in the US, and if you add post-op care, medicines, etc. to that, the cost can quickly escalate, to say nothing of the long waiting lines while you endure the pain. A similar procedure in India costs less than $500, and you hardly have to wait at all. A heart surgery costs over $30000 in the US, while it can be lower than $8000 for an open heart surgery in India. It was impossible for under-insured Americans to come up with such money, but India and other Asian destinations offered an attractive alternative. This fact led to medical tourism industry’s targeting the under/un-insured market almost exclusively.
With the new health care bill that requires all Americans to be insured comprehensively, this market is about to go away. If there are no uninsured Americans, the medical tourism industry will lose its relevance. While every Asian hospital will underline its quality and promptness, it is probably true that if given the choice of treatment in the US at the same cost, most Americans will settle for that. So, once the health care bill makes every American insured, the medical tourism industry will need to devise a new strategy to survive.