Monday, October 13, 2008

How the global financial crisis is going to be good for Indian doctors

Everyone is hurting from the global financial crisis. I think this is actually a great opportunity for Indian healthcare. US companies and US health insurance players are going to need to tighten their purse strings - and they are now going to be forced to look for more cost effective healthcare services. Since these are not available in the US, they will start looking for options overseas - and India will be high on their list.

Uptil now, most medical tourists came to India of their own accord - either because they were not happy with their own healthcare system; or they could not afford US medical care, and needed to save money. They were paying from their own pockets for their medical care.

Now, as the entire country needs to save money, lots of corporates and health insurance players are going to be forced to look for inexpensive alternatives. While many US doctors and hospitals will have to shape up and provide more cost effective services, they will find it hard to compete with Indian healthcare providers.

Money talks - and it's going to talk very loudly in the next few months. Uptil now, doctors and hospitals i the US only had to compete with each other, which means they could set their own rates ( which were often exorbitant, and about 10 times as much as Indian doctors charged , for no very good reason, other than - " This is the US market rate". This is going to change very quickly, as payers are going to demand efficiency and cost savings . Just like remuneration rates for cataract surgery dropped dramatically in the US when Medicare cracked the whip, we are going to see a similar impact across the entire medical ecosystem.

We live in interesting times !

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