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Promoting Medical Tourism In India

Medical tourism focuses on treatment of acute illness, elective surgeries such as cardiology and cancer, among others. From October this year , the Government plans to start overseas marketing of India as a medical tourism destination. // Senior Government officials say that the formalities for marketing medical facilities to a global audience have already started and they hope to complete the process of price-banding of hospitals in various cities by the third quarter of this year. The government of India is of the opinion that by marketing India as a global medical tourism destination, it could capitalise on the low-cost, high-quality medical care available in the country.

Statistics show that the medical tourism industry in India is worth $333 million (Rs 1,450 crore) while a study by CII-McKinsey estimates that the country could earn Rs 5,000-10,000 crore by 2012. Probably realising the potential, major corporates such as the Tatas, Fortis, Max, Wockhardt, Piramal, and the Escorts group have made significant investments in setting up modern hospitals in major cities. Many have also designed special packages for patients, including airport pickups, visa assistance and board and lodging, health care industry officials said.

Among the factors that make India an attractive proposition for medical treatment is cost efficiency. The estimated cost for a heart surgery in the U.S is $30,000 , however the same could be performed India for about $6,000. Similarly, a bone marrow transplant could cost about $2,50,000 in the US while it could be done here for about $26,000.

Foreigners have already started trickling into India for medical treatment thus officials are hopeful that this will become a flood once the various initiatives being taken by the Government take off. The Government has also introduced various policy measures such as the National Health Policy recognizes the treatment of international patients as an export, which allows private hospitals treating such patients to enjoy benefits such as lower import duties, increase in the rate of depreciation (from 25 per cent to 40 per cent) for life-saving medical equipment, and several other tax sops in order to encourage medical tourism in India .

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