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A blessing in disguise for medical tourism

by Priyanka Golikeri ,  Sify Business | 2008-11-05

Much before the credit crisis rocked the American economy and the world, Michigan-based Jill Howard (name changed) made up her mind to visit India during the Christmas holidays this year for a joint replacement surgery. The 58-year-old engineer had planned her surgery in India, because she knew that the costs for the treatment would be much lower here compared to the US.

However, with the turn of September, things began to shape differently across the world. The global crisis was now much palpable with the collapse of investment banks and the ensuing credit crunch. And as the crisis gnawed at the margins of some of the world’s top corporates, one could see the telltale signs of a global depression.

What ensued in the following months was an economic mayhem with the rising number of pink slips, sky-rocketing fuel prices, sinking stock markets and dimming sentiments. Everything, from food prices to air fares hit the roof.

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However, all this had no affect on Howard’s plans for her surgery in India. In fact, now she had all the more reasons to get the surgery done in India as a joint replacement surgery in the US would have cost her a stupendous $50,000 against only $8,000 in India.

"So even if I were to add the airline expenses, travel and stay, it would be cheaper to fly to India for the same treatment," she said.

Like Howard, several medical industry experts, too, believe that it couldn’t be a better time to fly to India for medical reasons. In fact, many say that the recession was a boon in disguise for the country’s medical tourism sector. (Medical tourism refers to travel undertaken for medical care.)

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