Friday, November 3, 2006

MedEcon: Americans outsource their healthcare

This USA Today article isn't groundbreaking, but it does demonstrate a disturbing trend. Some of the people in this article were insured in the US, but had their requests for hip surgery declined by their insurance. Thus they did what any good capitalist would do and flew to India. Another gentleman had angina and instead of going to an ED, flew to India for cardiac cath and stent placement. Maybe I'm just biased, but it kind of bugs me when Americans (some of the most protected patients in the world when it comes to provider training, drug approval, use of new technology) decide they'd rather get cheap surgery without the protections of US medicine. And I don't see this trend disappearing, as the likelihood of national healthcare continues to increase, healthcare rationing will also rise forcing many to choose an international option to get the procedures they want. And worse yet, when one of these patients gets an infection or restenosis (not because it was done in India but because it happens to some portion of all patients) they'll walk into my ED with no medical records, and maybe a slew of international phone numbers scribbled on a sheet of paper, and demand to be fixed.

The odd thing is that I'm okay with purchasing prescription drugs from Canada, but I find surgical outsourcing to be reckless and horrible. Is there really that much difference between the two?

1 comment:

Garrett said...

HUGE difference, given the extreme differences in price regulation and perceived inflation of prices with regards to drug prices. I'm not so sure that surgical procedures are that artificially inflated. If anything, older procedures are artificially deflated.

Fortunately for you, when Capital Consumer shows up, you can probably punt him directly to cardiology after you feed him some quinolones and narcotics.

But not to ignore your most provocative comment, dude, drugs from Canada? That's just outsourcing the regulation and FDA-reform that could be created with a few pieces of simple politically unpopular legislation. Or with just a few quick kicks to the head to the FDA for dangling all the wrong carrots in front of big pharma companies that USED to have absurd rates of returns, and now aren't much more profitable (and probably less efficient) than most other industries.