Overseas Surgery

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So, I’ve heard about the increase in Americans seeking expensive surgery abroad but today’s Wall Street Journal coverage of Dr. Shetty’s 1000-bed cardiac hospital in Bangalore, India was absolutely fascinating reading: (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125875892887958111.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLETopStories)

Cardiac survey averages $2000 at Dr. Shetty’s hospital compared to between  $20,000 -$100,000 here in the US.  And it’s not just that India is a less expensive place to run a hospital.  It’s because Dr. Shetty has such high volume that he is able to achieve economies of scale unheard of in the United States.  He’s also able to drive hard bargains with manufacturers of cardiac supplies and equipment and his staff are incredibly productive.  What’s the quality like you ask?  Well, it has been well established that most surgeons do better when they do more of a particular type of surgery.  Dr. Shetty’s hospital has a 30-day mortality rate for CABG of 1.4% compared to 1.9% for the US average and 1.35% for MGH.  According to the most recent report by the Massachusetts Health Care Quality and Cost Council, the average cost of a CABG surgery at MGH is $51,500.  So, for the same outcome we could comfortably have the surgery and pocket close to $50,000!  No wonder we’re seeing an increase in overseas surgeries, from 750,000 thousand Americans in 2007 to nearly 6 million by next year.  Now that’s something for hospitals here to worry about.