From Pariah to Player: South Africa’s Journey towards Becoming a Medical Tourism Destination

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Six months ago, I was contacted by Greer van Zyl, a Health Communications Consultant specializing in public health, advocacy, and media relations, who is currently a Community of Practice Manager at the SBCC Centre of Excellence, Wits School of Public Health in Johannesburg, South Africa. She had found a copy of my White Paper on medical tourism and workers’ compensation, and wanted my permission to quote me in an article she was writing on the subject of medical tourism in South Africa.

Naturally, I was excited by the prospect of being in print in South Africa, as my White Paper had just recently been published online by the Medical Tourism Association (it has been removed over a copyright issue, but that’s another story).

Yesterday, Greer was kind enough to forward to me the link to the published article. She told me that due to word restraints, the original text she wrote was shortened, but it still conveys the meaning of what my original text was about. The article appears in the Health Professions Council of South Africa’s (HPCSA) The Bulletin. The article can be found on pages 28-29.

The article, entitled, Medical Tourism – SA’s Undiscovered Little Gem, introduces medical tourism as a relatively new concept in South Africa, and is regarded as an untapped sector for positioning the country as a destination of choice for medical procedures.

One area Greer discusses with regard to medical tourism is the high cost of medical care in the US and the impact that has on the workers’ compensation market here, as she quotes yours truly.

Medical tourists from America are likely to flock abroad as medical costs in the US drive patients to seek cheaper healthcare, particularly for workers’ compensation for injuries such as knee replacements, hip replacements and spinal fusions. These procedures cost considerably less in India, Thailand and Singapore. In Singapore, for example, the cost of knee replacement surgery, the airfare, and hospital and hotel accommodation can be six times lower than that in the US. A spinal fusion in Singapore costs up to 12 times less than in the US; in India, it costs 20 times less. Richard Krasner, a risk management consultant in Florida, US, says that this globalization of healthcare will require the removal of barriers to provide the best care possible at the lowest cost. “Healthcare cost savings through medical tourism can be just as beneficial in workers’ compensation.”

To compare with Greer’s original text, I am including the following:

Increasing medical costs in the US is likely to see a growth spurt as patients seek cheaper healthcare abroad. One untapped area is workers’ compensation for injuries such as knee replacement, hip replacement and spinal fusion. These cost considerably less in countries such as India, Thailand and Singapore, where a knee replacement, including airfare, hospital and hotel, can be six times lower than that of the US retail cost. A spinal fusion in Singapore is up to 12 times less than in the US, while in India the procedure costs 20 times less.

“Medical tourism is likely to experience explosive growth over the next three to five years due to changes in the US healthcare industry brought about by reform. This globalization of healthcare will require the removal of barriers to provide the best care possible at the lowest cost. Healthcare cost savings through medical tourism can be just as beneficial in workers’ compensation,” says Richard Krasner, a risk management consultant practicing in Florida.

To emphasize the importance of the development of medical tourism in South Africa, and it’s positioning as a medical tourism destination, one of the speakers at the 5th World Medical Tourism and Global Healthcare Congress I attended last October in Hollywood, Florida, was Dr. Gwendoline Ramokgopa, Deputy Minister of Health, in the National Department of Health of South Africa. Dr. Ramokgopa represented the highest level government official to attend the conference, and signals South Africa’s willingness to be a player in the emerging medical tourism industry.

Despite all the economic, political and social problems racking South Africa today, the fact that the country’s leaders and healthcare advocates are focusing on medical tourism is a good sign that South Africa can be a major factor in the growth of the industry, not only worldwide, but on the African continent itself. As more countries to South Africa’s north get into the market, and as South Africa is recognized as a “rising star”, the outlook for medical tourism in Africa is good.

My sincere thanks to Greer for her very good article.

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About Transforming Workers' Comp

Have worked in the Insurance and Risk Management industry for more than thirty years in New York, Florida and Texas in the Claims and Risk Management spheres, primarily in Workers’ Compensation Claims, Auto No-Fault and Property & Casualty Claims Administration and Claims Management. Have experience in Risk and Insurance Business Analysis, Risk Management Information Systems, and Insurance Data Processing and Data Management. Received my Master’s in Health Administration (MHA) degree from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida in December 2011. Received my Master of Arts (MA) degree in American History from New York University, and received my Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Liberal Arts (Political Science/History/Social Sciences) from SUNY Brockport. I have studied World History, Global Politics, and have a strong interest in the future of human civilization in all aspects; economic, political and social. I am looking for new opportunities that will utilize my previous experience and MHA degree. I am available for speaking engagements and am willing to travel. LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/richardkrasner Resume: https://www.box.com/s/z8rxcks6ix41m3ocvvep

6 thoughts on “From Pariah to Player: South Africa’s Journey towards Becoming a Medical Tourism Destination

  1. Israel

    Hello Mr. Krasner,
    My name is Israel. My company is an Israeli based medical tourism provider. We have agreements with best hospitals and excellent relationships with best israeli physicians. We are interested to provide our services to Americans. As today we provide our services to patients from Russia and other post soviet countries and we are looking to extend it to other countries. Will be more than happy if you would contact me to establish business connection with us.

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    1. richardkrasner Post author

      Shalom Israel,

      I appreciate your reaching out to me to establish a business connection. I am not sure how we can work together since my interest is in getting the American workers’ compensation system to implement medical tourism. From the research I have done in the last two years on the subject, I believe that the most likely region for this to occur in is in Latin America and the Caribbean.

      I seriously doubt American companies and insurance companies are going to send patients (i.e., claimants) to Israel or Russia, for that matter. I know that Israel is a growing medical tourism destination and its medical facilities are superb, thanks in large part to generous charity donations from American Jews.

      But my focus in writing the blog is to get injured workers to get the best care, just as individuals are doing through their health plans or on their own.

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  2. Braxton

    Why not explain compare the market van insurance based services In a way that’s more understandable in From Pariah to Player: South Africas Journey towards Becoming a …?

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  3. Pingback: From Pariah to Player: South Africa’s Journey towards Becoming a Medical Tourism Destination | Welcome to Medical- South East Asia

  4. Ruth Reynolds

    Medical tourism in Africa continuously booms due to low cost facility and services in the area – and this growth in the industry is inevitable.

    While social media is a key part in enticing people to try health facilities in the said country, there are top medical tourism companies in Africa (like http://www.placidway.com/profile/2019/PlacidAfrica) that spreads the information and helps people to find the best health care facilities.

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