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.