Editor Speak

Booming Medical Tourism in India

Dr. M A Kamal

May-June, 2011

India as a global healthcare destination. Consequently, it is expected that the country’s medical tourism market will grow at a CAGR of over 26% during 2011-2013.

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, equipments and facilities that India offers.

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.

Healthcare in India features a universal health care system run by the constituent states and territories of India. The Constitution charges every state with “raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties”. The National Health Policy was endorsed by the Parliament of India in 1983 and updated in 2002. However, the government sector is understaffed and underfinanced; poor services at state-run hospitals force many people to visit private medical practitioners.

Government hospitals, some of which are among the best hospitals in India, provide treatment at taxpayer expense. Most essential drugs are offered free of charge in these hospitals. Government hospitals provide treatment either free or at minimal charges. For example, an outpatient card at AIIMS (one of the best hospitals in India) costs a onetime fee of rupees 10 (around 20 cents US) and thereafter outpatient medical advice is free. In-hospital treatment costs depend on financial condition of the patient and facilities utilized by him but are usually much less than the private sector. For instance, a patient is waived treatment costs if he is below poverty line. Another patient may seek for an air-conditioned room if he is willing to pay extra for it. The charges for basic in-hospital treatment and investigations are much less compared to the private sector. The cost for these subsidies comes from annual allocations from the central and state governments.

 

 

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