Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Effect of International Healthcare Competition

David Williams over at the Health Business Blog interviews Maggie Ann Grace, author of State of the Heart: A Medical Tourist’s True Story of Lifesaving Surgery in India. As the wife of the first US citizen to have a heart valve replacement in India, their experience demonstates the remarkable international pressure building for marketing of global health services:
David: Now you mention in the book that you think that people were going to be asking you about how much the two days with the Heparin in the U.S. was compared to the whole trip to India. So I have to ask, what was the comparison of the U.S. cost versus the whole surgery and trip to India?

Maggi: Well, I wish I knew the answer because the last time we addressed this issue, Durham Regional was negotiating this price, and what happened coming back was when we got into the hospital was, Dr. Hinckey who is Dr. Engel in the book tried very hard when she put Howard, — she knew how devastating it was for him to get put in the hospital when she saw him again after the return from India, and she said I’m going to do everything in my power to make this just a Heparin drip stay and not a procedure, not anything that’s going to cost like what a surgery would cost, and I think she coded him in as a special research patient, or I don’t know what she did, but she kept the cost down that way, and then I think because of all the publicity the hospital bent over backwards to keep the cost down. So if I can put this in some relation to something else, a friend told us right when we got back from India that he had been put in the same hospital in Durham overnight for a drip of antibiotics because he had an abscessed tooth. So he was in overnight because the only way to get the antibiotics working fast enough was through the I.V. He got out the next morning and his bill was $7500, which was more than our entire three-week stay…

David: Right.

Maggi: And two surgeries in India. Howard’s bill for the Heparin drip two-day stay when we got back was nothing like that. As I recall it was in the couple thousand range. But that’s because everyone was bending over backwards. I know that. And they were bending over backwards in India as well…

David: Yeah.
Great interview and worth a read.

The times, they are a changin'.


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