3 Million people spent $76B on care away from home in 2010.
A recent Frost and Sullivan research report on the medical travel business predicts that medical tourism will come a $100 B business by the end of 2012 and that hot spots to watch will be: the Middle East, Asia and Germany.
While most believe that cost is the main driver this is not true across the board. A McKinsey and Company 2008 report emphasizes that 40 per cent of medical travelers seek advanced technology, 32 per cent seek better healthcare, 15 per cent seek faster medical services and only 9 percent of travelers seek lower costs as their primary consideration. Click to view the full report.
As reimbursements for Medicaid and Medicare continue to decrease and increasing numbers of US doctors indicate they will cut back seeing patients insured by these government insurance plans, or stop seeing them altogether. This will fuel access, rather than cost, to the forefront of medical travel.
Inbound tourism is the flip side of the same coin – as US healthcare continues to get more expensive and more difficult to access, hospitals are looking for ways to fill the beds. Foreign patients are attractive market and also pay in cash.
As I””ve pointed out before, these market eruptions present entrepreneurs with big opportunities. Healthcare reform might change the rules, but I don””t think significantly, given the big picture patient demographic and manpower supply and demand challenges.
Global referral communications, coordination and care is a growth industry begging for talent and $100B is likely to get a lot of attention. It certainly got mine.
The U.S Health Care Industry is facing more challenges than ever before due to some of the following significant factors. I have tried to list below few items
•Based on the National Center for Health Statistics data, life expectancy in the United States continues to increase and at the same time, U.S population is aging rapidly.
•America’s 78 million Baby Boomers begin turning 65 in 2011.
•The number of Americans less than 65 years who are uninsured remains staggering at more than 42 million.
•The number of patients waiting for transplants is rapidly increasing. The number of new registrations on the kidney transplant waiting list increased more than 300% between 1988 and 2006, and 67% between 1996 and 2006.
•In 2005, the United States spent 16% (up from 14% in 2000) of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health care, a greater share than any other developed country. In 2005, the United States spent $1.7 trillion on health care, an average of $6,700 per person.
•Almost half of the two-million Americans who file for bankruptcy do so because of medical expenses. Please see the U.S Bankruptcy data for the year 2001.
•Managed care providers continue to struggle to contain costs while employers are hit hard by vast increases in the cost of providing coverage to employees and retirees. Physicians are caught between the desire for quality care and the desire for cost control on the part of payers, including HMOs, Medicare and Medicaid. Patients and insurance companies are also dealing with sticker shock as the nation’s prescription drug bill soars. At the same time, hospitals and health systems write off record amounts of revenues to bad debt, which increases costs for bill-paying patients.
All of the above factors clearly indicate the severe problem of continuous increases in the cost of U.S health care and how it affects the various actors in the industry namely patients, physicians & care providers, insurance companies, employers, hospitals, health systems and government.
Medical Tourism is one solution but not a replacement for U.S. healthcare system.
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