Last week, The Economist published a short article on how the medical travel industry thrives.
I had intended to write about the article, but there was not much there to go on, except for the part that mentioned Health City Cayman Islands. (See post, Cayman Islands Hospital Delivers Lower Cost Care).
As reported in The Economist, when the work first began on the 2,000-bed hospital, the $2 billion project was expected to attract more than 17,000 foreign patients annually, mostly from the US.
However, when the first wing opened in 2014, fewer than 1,000 overseas patients arrived in its first year, according to the International Medical Travel Journal.
One reason give for this was that the backers of the project based their projections of customer numbers on a flawed study, according to an investigation by a government public-accounts committee.
Fewer Americans came, the article said, partly because health care insurance companies were not interested in sending people overseas.
This is not unexpected, even if the backers themselves expected more patients to come from the US. American exceptionalism and the belief that the American health care system is the best in the world, is one reason for the reluctance of US insurers to send patients out of the country.
The other reason is that doing so would not bring in more profit from the ever-growing health care systems that hospitals are building as they purchase more and more practices, and add on more services like insurance that used to be separate from the provider community.
Until health care providers travel overseas to treat patients, as The Economist reports, the lack of patients at Health City Cayman Islands and elsewhere will continue. During the Olympics a few years ago, Dubai Health City advertised regularly during commercial breaks, Perhaps that is what Health City Cayman Islands should do.