Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Standing US Healthcare on Its Ear

When health care costs are 80% cheaper, should employers ship their employees overseas?
Mr. Garrett, who works for Blue Ridge Paper Products in Canton, N.C., had volunteered to get his treatments in India in return for a share in the company’s savings. Blue Ridge now says it will find Mr. Garrett a treatment alternative in the United States and will offer the overseas option only to its salaried employees.

IndUShealth, a company based in North Carolina that arranges health care in India for Americans, would have made Mr. Garrett’s medical arrangements. The company acknowledged that its plan to send Blue Ridge workers to India was “on hold” but said it was exploring deals with other employers.
I had no idea there were companies like IndUShealth out there. But after looking into their hospital partners and recalled I had been to Escorts Heart Institute in Dehli - a relatively modern facility that catered to the more affluent population in India. I was there in 2001 as a "physician trainer" for Medtronic's launch of the Insync biventricular pacemaker for the treatment of patients with heart failure (at the time they didn't do heart transplants there -- too expensive). The facility was, er, nice (especially relative to the local government facility), but certainly not to the standard of US hospitals. It scares me that cost alone (and how they're going to sue if one of their employees has a complication) is what matters to US businesses.

Scary thing is, it seems if the medical liability concerns are resolved, this will be a whole "new world" in healthcare.

I just hope I don't have to go to Dehli for my ulcer treatment when this becomes reality.



Anonymous said...

This is appalling! Surely in this wonderful country we live in, we can do better than this for our citizens. It's bad enough that we send films to India for reading. Thank god I retired from a great hospital system, and my retiree health coverage is taken care of.

Anonymous said...

I kind of agree with HHP. It seems like a sad day when we have to go to other countries to get needed health care.

You know I always thought the "majority" rules. In this country it seems we have that backwards..

It is far and away the minority that has caused our schools to not allow Prayer. It is also far and away the minority of patients (and their attorneys) who have ruined our healthcare system. Why do we let this go on?

DrWes said...

Cathy -
I wish there was a simple fix to the healthcare debacle. Healthcare as an industry is one of the largest employers in America. Attorneys are not the only problem - insurers, too, play a HUGE role. I mean, really, why does ANY CEO require compensation of $286 million per year, as is the case with Mr. McGuire of Unitedhealth? But he is not the only one. And the pharmaceutical industry, what about their rocketing drug prices? Etc., etc.

It causes many to throw up their hands in disgust. It is a mammoth problem that perhaps this international competition (unfortunately) will serve to correct. The fat cats (all of 'em) have to go on a diet, or the system we know now, will be a thing of the past.