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US firms to send workers to India for treatment

The firms have signed a health plan which allows sending workers abroad to save more than 80% health expenses.

india Updated: Oct 23, 2006 11:07 IST

At least 40 American corporations have signed a health plan which allows sending employees abroad, including to India, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, where they could save more than 80 per cent on the cost of medical procedures.

United Group Programs, a health insurer in Boca Raton, Florida, began offering the programme six moths ago.

With medical costs skyrocketing in the United States where Americans spend an estimated 16 per cent of the GDP on healthcare and in Europe, the idea of going abroad to get healthy is becoming more and more attractive, Newsweek reported.

More than 150,000 North American and European are currently seeking medical treatment abroad, it said.

Giving instances of the savings, Newsweek quoted GlobalChoice Healthcare, a firm arranging foreign procedures, as saying that angioplasty which costs 50,000 dollars in an American hospital can be performed for merely 6000 dollars in Mohali in India.

The magazine quotes Abacas International, a leading travel facilitator, estimating that medical tourism to Asia could generate up to 4.4 billion dollars by 2012.

For invasive surgeries, the magazine says preferred destination include India, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia where large hospitals, like the Apollo chain in India and Bumrungrad in Bangkok in Thailand, actively court American, European and Middle Eastern patients.

Slick Web sites tout their partnerships with nearby luxury hotels for post-operative recovery. Bumrungrad arranges limousines to pick up patients at the airport, and sheiks and princes congregate in the Platinum Lounge of Apollo's Delhi hospital, the report says.

Bumrungrad, Newsweek says, treated 400,000 patients from 150 countries, highest in the world, and plans to double its outpatient capacity to 6000 a day. And it takes just 17 minutes to see a specialist once a patient walks into the hospital.