Like some 47 million other Americans, Nancy Sowa (pictured) doesn’t have health insurance. So when her doctors last year told her she needed a total hip replacement, the office manager for a non-profit did what a growing number of U.S. citizens are doing: She headed abroad. At Wockhardt Hospital in Bangalore, India, the 56-year-old was put up in a hospital “suite” far swankier than what she would typically find in the U.S., with a computer, fridge, cable TV, sitting area and an extra bed for her travel companion.
More to the point, the two-hour surgery in July, performed by an orthopedic surgeon trained in the U.S. and Australia, was a success. Four months later, the Durham, N.C. resident is feeling like her old self again, going for long hikes and planning her next vacation. The final tab for the procedure, including rehabilitative therapy and round-trip airfare for two? $12,000. That’s a fraction of the $45,000 to $90,000 she had been told the surgery would cost at home.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do the surgery in the United States,” says Sowa. “I didn’t have to explore taking out a second mortgage or tapping family members because I had this other option.”
One looming uncertainly is, what happens if the U.S. passes legislation enacting universal health care coverage? Less people might travel overseas if they are covered for care — even if it’s more expensive — in the U.S., says Saroja Mohanasundaram, CEO of Newton, Mass.-based medical tourism facilitator Healthbase. People might still travel if certain procedures like bariatric and cosmetic surgeries aren’t covered, she says. “There may be wait lists in the U.S. or other issues,” she adds.
As far as Nancy Sowa is concerned, she’s not convinced universal coverage would have changed her mind about going to India. “Even if I had insurance, I’m not sure I would have made the choice to stay in the U.S.,” she says. While that may be good news for corporate benefits administrators seeking to trim costs, it may concern medical tourism critics who don’t want to see the trend become a fixture in U.S. health care.
AstraZeneca Approves Thailand’s Vaccine Factory
Skin-lightening products market to reach US$31 billion by 2024
In emerging Asian and African economies, the natural aspiration to enhance one’s circumstances has led to rapid growth in the market for skin-lightening products, which is projected to reach US$31 billion by 2024.
Has Covid-19 prompted the Belt and Road Initiative to go green?
– Chinese overseas investment dropped off in 2020
– Government remains committed to the wide-ranging infrastructure programme
– Sustainability, health and digital to be the new cornerstones of the initiative
Following a year of coronavirus-related disruptions, China appears to be placing a greater focus on sustainable, digital and health-related projects in its flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
As OBG outlined in April last year, the onset of Covid-19 prompted questions about the future direction of the BRI.
Launched in 2013, the BRI is an ambitious international initiative that aims to revive ancient Silk Road trade routes through large-scale infrastructure development.
By the start of 2020 some 2951 BRI-linked projects – valued at a total of $3.9trn – were planned or under way across the world.
However, as borders closed and lockdowns were imposed, progress stalled on a number of major BRI infrastructure developments.
In June China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that 30-40% of BRI projects had been affected by the virus, while a further 20% had been “seriously affected”. Restrictions on the flow of Chinese workers and construction supplies were cited as factors behind project suspensions or slowdowns in Pakistan, Cambodia and Indonesia, among other countries.
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