India’s Hospitals Are Filling Up With Desperate Americans – Foreign Policy
For Americans struggling to meet health care costs, medical tourism has become a surprisingly common choice. Estimating the number of medical tourists is tricky, but according to a government survey, more than 300,000 U.S. residents may go abroad each year for health care. There are many reasons why Americans travel for treatment, but the main one is money.
India is a particularly attractive choice for American patients, since it has a number of hospitals offering quality care from English-speaking professionals at affordable rates. Vinayak Shourie, the international marketing director at Fortis Healthcare, estimated that 20 percent of his company’s business comes from foreigners — and that figure is growing. India introduced medical visas in June 2005 to promote the industry, and it recently began allowing citizens of nearly 150 countries to apply entirely online. The tourism ministry issued more than 170,000 medical visas in 2016, a 45 percent increase over the previous year. It’s become a big business for the country, and business is booming.