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Medical Tourism in India

Enjoy 'First World Health Care at Third World Prices' in India


“Journey to India for world class medical treatment at low cost is a win-win situation”

India is one of the most lucrative medical tourism markets in the world. Driven by factors such as government support through policies and initiatives, low cost, less waiting time, healthcare infrastructure, and rich cultural heritage, the country has witnessed a remarkable growth during the recent past. Though smaller in size compared to the developed countries, Indian medical sector is enjoying splendid developments at the regional and national level. Further, the country holds enormous potential for future growth and development.
Moreover, wellness tourism is a fast emerging segment in the Indian medical tourism industry. It is observed that western quality treatment at low cost has been the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of Indian medical tourism, which can be fully leveraged by creating good quality unique travel experiences on an emotional, physical, intellectual, and even spiritual level. Moreover, the Ministry of Tourism is aiming at leveraging India's potential in traditional systems of wellness and medicines, such as Ayurveda, Siddha, and Yoga to project the country as a unique destination for natural and spiritual healing.
The term ‘Medical Tourism’ was tossed for the first time by the media and travel agencies to describe the rapid development and the practice of large travel to different parts of the world to receive specialized treatment for health care. As a developing country, India also a leading destination for medical tourism. Medical Tourism in India provides countless options for all tourists to explore the facilities of medical sciences in India. As to get medical treatment in India from anywhere in the world becomes a chance to experience the health care institutions in this particular place and it also provides an opportunity to visit the best tourist destinations on this land of Himalaya and rich heritage of world civilization. As a diverse nation, India has many hospitals and healthcare institutions in different parts of India.
The prime reason that India is a favorable destination is because of its infrastructure and technology which is virtually equivalent to those in USA, UK and Europe. India has some of the best hospitals and treatment centers in the world and some truly superior facilities. Since it is also one of the most favorable tourist destinations in the world, India Medication-combined-with tourism has come into its own in 2006, term Medical Tourism came into existence in India.
To provide better healthcare services, the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Model has been adopted by the Indian government at both the central level and the state level. The model seeks to improve healthcare infrastructure through expertise of private sector and better support of public sector. Moreover, we have found that, regulatory structure related to medical tourism industry has been quite liberal and supportive. The country has allocated good budgetary amounts for various policies and initiatives.
India differs vastly from other destinations in terms of cost, infrastructure, human resources, patient perceptions, competencies, and the level of government support.
India has tens of thousands of skilled physicians and nurse practitioners. Over the last two decades, the economic boom in India has led to the building of medical facilities & infrastructure that rival the very best of west has to offer. Many of the physicians that practice in these hospitals and clinics have returned (to India) from top notch medical institutions of U.S. and Europe, leaving behind successful practices.
These days it seems like every country in the world promotes itself as a heaven for medical tourism. The reality is that in most cases they offer sub-standard facilities, limited skills and qualifications. Some small countries may be viable as alternatives for minor surgical procedures, India is the only mainstream option that offers a comprehensive solution for any and all medical needs, and does this with the highest levels of service, facilities, and professional skills. A complex transplant or bypass procedure can be achieved for a tiny fraction of the cost for the same procedure in the U.S and UK. This lower cost includes significantly longer post-operative care in the hospital itself. A very important aspect of medicine is the recovery phase. India is a perfect destination for medical tourism that combines health treatment with visits to some of the most alluring and awe-inspiring places of the world. A growing number of tourists are flocking in large numbers because of the superlative medical care, hi-tech equipments and facilities that India offers.
Factors Making India First Choice for Medical Tourism

India excels in providing quality and cheap health care services to overseas tourists. The field has such lucrative potential that it can become a $2.3 billion business by 2012, states a study by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). In 2004, some 150,000 foreigners visited India for treatment, and the numbers have been rising by 15 per cent each year.
India most suitable For:

  • The cost of medical services in India is almost 30% lower to that in Western countries and the cheapest in South-east Asia.
  • Language is a major comfort factor that invites so many foreign tourists to visit India for medical and health tourism. India has a large populace of good English speaking doctors, medical staff and guides. This makes it easier for foreigners to connect well to Indian doctors.
  • Indian hospitals excel in cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery, joint replacement, orthopaedic surgery, gastroenterology, ophthalmology, transplants and urology to name a few. The various specialties covered are Neurology, Neurosurgery, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Rheumatology, Endocrinology, ENT, Paediatrics, Paediatric Surgery, Pediatric Neurology, Urology, Nephrology, Dermatology, Dentistry, Plastic Surgery, Gynecology, Pulmonology, Psychiatry, General Medicine & General Surgery.
  • The medical services in India include full body pathology, comprehensive physical and gynecological examinations, dental checkup, eye checkup, diet consultation, audiometry, spirometry, stress & lifestyle management, pap smear, digital Chest X-ray, 12 lead ECG, 2D echo colour doppler, gold standard DXA bone densitometry, body fat analysis, coronary risk markers, cancer risk markers, carotid colour doppler, spiral CT scan and high strength MRI. Each test is carried out by professional M.D. physicians, and is comprehensive yet pain-free.
  • There is also a full range of services running the gamut from General Radiography, Ultra Sonography, Mammography to high end services like Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Digital Subtraction Angiography along with intervention procedures, Nuclear Imaging. The diagnostic facilities offered in India are comprehensive to include Laboratory services, Imaging, Cardiology, Neurology and Pulmonology. The Laboratory services include biochemistry, haematology, microbiology, serology, histopathology, transfusion medicine and RIA.
  • All medical treatments and investigations are done using the latest, technologically advanced diagnostic equipments.
  • Indian doctors have got an expertise in performing successful cardiac surgeries, bone marrow transplants, liver transplants, orthopaedic surgeries and other medical treatments.
  • The cost of Infertility treatments in India is almost 1/4th of that in developed nations. The availability of modern assisted reproductive techniques, such as IVF, and a full range of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) services have made India the first choice for infertility treatments.
  • Government and private sector studies in India estimate that medical tourism could bring between $1 billion and $2 billion US into the country by 2012. The reports estimate that medical tourism to India is growing by 30 per cent a year.
  •  The Confederation of Indian Industries estimates that 150,000 foreign patients came to India for treatment in 2004. And McKinsey & Co., an international consulting firm, estimates that outsourced medical care could bring India $2.2 billion a year by 2012.
  •  Today, more than 250,000 patients per year visit Singapore alone for medical services. This year, approximately half a million foreign patients will travel to India for medical care, whereas in 2002, the number was only 150,000.

The Insurance Factor

  • An estimated 46-million Americans have no health insurance and according to a recent study, high medical bills contribute to almost 750,000 bankruptcies a year.3
  • More than 108-million people in the US are without dental insurance.
  • Right now only 61 per cent of the jobs in America have health insurance down from 69 per cent three years ago. That's seven-million people. Companies can no longer afford to provide health benefits and today you don't keep a job for life.
  • Although nearly 46-million Americans are uninsured, the United States spends more on health care than other industrialized nations, and those countries provide health insurance to all their citizens.
  • Health insurance premiums will rise to an average of more than $14,500 for family coverage in 2007.
  • Nearly one-quarter of the uninsured people are changing their way of life significantly in order to pay medical bills.

Quality of Service

  • In many foreign clinics the doctors are supported by more registered nurses per patient than in any Western facility. Some clinics provide single-patient rooms that resemble guestrooms in four-star hotels, with a nurse dedicated to each patient 24 hours a day. Added to this, some clinics assign patients a personal assistant for the post-hospital recovery period and throw in a vacation incentive as well. Additionally, many Asian airlines offer frequent-flyer miles to ease the cost of returning for follow-up visits.
  • India has top-notch centers for open-heart surgery, pediatric heart surgery, hip and knee replacement, cosmetic surgery, dentistry, bone marrow transplants and cancer therapy, and virtually all of India’s clinics are equipped with the latest electronic and medical diagnostic equipment.
  • Indian pharmaceuticals meet the stringent requirements of the US Food and Drug Administration. Additionally, India’s quality of care is up to American standards, and some Indian medical centers even provide services that are uncommon elsewhere. For example, hip surgery patients in India can opt for a hip-resurfacing procedure, in which damaged bone is scraped away and replaced with chrome alloy — an operation that costs less and causes less post-operative trauma than the traditional.

Money Matters

  • Nearly two in five adults, approximately 77-million adults, in the US struggle with medical bills, have recent or accrued medical debts or both.
  • Almost half of the two-million Americans who file for bankruptcy do so because of medical expenses.

The Waiting Game

  • Medical research has shown that longer waits can lead to adverse consequences for cardiac patients. And also the cost rises to the estimated cost for the surgery due to years spend in waiting for the surgery.
  • About 1,500 Britons go abroad each year for medical treatment paid for them by the National Health Service, which critics say has been slow to reduce waiting times and to help patients find alternative treatment abroad.

Currently, the median wait time in England with the National Health Service for orthopedic surgery is 25.8 weeks, while the wait time for cardiac surgery is 14.4 weeks.

As Indian hospitals are on par with -- if not better than -- the best hospitals in Thailand and Singapore, there is scope for improvement elsewhere, and India itself may become the preferred medical destination worldwide. In addition to the increasingly top class medical care, a big draw for foreign patients is also the very minimal or hardly any waitlist as is common in European or American hospitals. In fact, priority treatment is provided today in Indian hospitals.
India has much more expertise does Thailand or Malaysia. The infrastructure in some of India's hospitals is also very good. What is more significant is that the costs are much less -- almost one-third of those in other Asian countries.

Medical Tourism for Others:

In some cases, even for insured people, the cost of treatment overseas is less than their out-of-pocket amount in the USA. If you are a Baby Boomer you do not yet qualify for Medicare or Medicaid for your urgently needed surgery. For others who have lost their group coverage due to retirement, the surgery or procedure they need may not be covered under the Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits. Under such circumstances, medical tourism is the most viable option.

Traveling Time to India

Average estimated travel time in hours by Airways to India
From/To India
New York City 16

Los Angeles

18

Miami

18

Dallas

18

London

7

Paris

10

Rome

9

Dubai

4

Riyadh

5

Bangladesh

2

Pakistan

2

Johannesburg

10

Sydney

13

Entry and Exit Requirements to India

Except for citizens from Nepal and Bhutan, all foreigners from other countries, including the European Union, United States and Canada, require a visa to enter India. India does not allow for "a visa on arrival", thus visas should first be obtained from the Indian Embassy or consulate in the medical travelers country of origin. 
Requirements to obtain a visa include: a passport valid for a minimum of 190 days, the visa fee, passport photographs and a completed application form. Supporting documents may be necessary to determine or justify the required length of stay, but for medical cases, a multiple entry for a period of 6 months to one year may be provided. 

Other Reading
History of Medical Tourism
Cost of Medical Treatment in India and Comparison
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