Wednesday, December 20, 2006

R2I - Extremely affordable medical care, comparatively

So, I fell ill. Nothing major. Just a temperature, with a very bad throat, and dry cough. I was hoping it would heal on its own, mostly cause I don't typically like to got to the docs, and kind of hope for the body to fight the infection by itself. Anyway, this time around, I had to go to a doc, cause it got really bad. So, I went to this doc that my mom recommended highly. I liked the doc, talking was easy with her, and the diagnosis was quick. As I was leaving, I asked her how much was her fee? I was blown-over when she said "Rs. 30/-" (65 cents)! However, I must agree that her office was pretty basic and had no pleasing interiors, unlike a typical doctor's office in the U.S. The prescribed medicines cost me Rs. 120/- ($2.6!), now this included an antibiotic as well. Overall, it cost me $3.25!

In the US, with the PPO plan we had, I would have to just pay a co-pay of $15 at the doctor's office and about $5-10 as co-pay for the antibiotic. The cough syrup would have probably been covered 100%. Anyway, this is just from my purse. The insurance would have been charged 100s for the whole thing!!! Where is $3.25 and where's 100s of dollars?

We had to take my kids a while ago to a pediatrician. We took them to one of repute. We were pretty happy with his office/setup, his interaction with the kids, the speed of diagnosis etc. Each visit cost us Rs. 150/- ($3.25) and the total cost of medicines for bothe kids about Rs. 200/- ($4.35). Overall costing us a total of $10.85 for both my kids, consultaion and medicines inclusive. In the US, 2 consultations would have a co-pay of $30, and the meds probably fully covered, cause there was no anti-biotic.

And here's the clincher, all of this medical expenditure is covered 100% by my hub's company, where as in the US the co-pay is from our pocket. So, the same exercise cost me $0 here, and would have cost me about $55 there! And this is only for a regular cold+fever. If it was anything more, and required a slight procedure, then what would cost about a couple of thousands of rupees (approximately $50), will cost thousands of dollars in the U.S. And in the PPO insurance plan we had, we would have to pay upto 20% of the total expenditure and other hospital fees. Sometimes it makes you wonder how much fluff encompasses the actual medical cost there.

19 comments:

Smitha said...

And Chits , you know what. There are Doctors that have shops with excellent interiors too. Just that we will end up paying a wee bit towards that :-) - the fee would be a 100 instead of 30. But then still within a few USD limit.

The hospitals coming up now like the Wockhardt on BG Road and Sagar Apollo in Jayanagar have mind blowing facilities. Another NRI who returned last year said she was flabbergasted when she visited Wockhardt on Bannerghatta road.
there is apollo hospital coming up there too and it has some affiliation to Harvard Medical school.

No wonder Medical tourism is a much talked about topic these days !

Chitra said...

Nelli, our pediatrician had a very nicely done up office with good interiors. That was nice.

Yes, medical tourism will do well. BTW, the Wockhardts and Apollos are probably good. But, I really hope we don't have to visit their facilities. KWIM? :)

Deeps said...

Tell me about it!! I don't understand the "co-pay" part at all :-p. Its as if to say the insurance company is not bearing all the burden :-p. And as you said, the cost boggles the mind. You are actually glad to have insurance, forgetting that you are the one paying the premiums each month :-p.

Chitra said...

Exactly Deepti, we pay enough premium and then the co-pay. We pay it all. The only way to get anything from the insurance is when you end up with a huge medical bill! But, we all want to be healthy and wouldn't want to end up in the hospital just to get even with the insurance co. :)

Usha said...

Interesting perspective.
I am so fed up of hearing everyone multiplying things by 45 on the earnings and spending side, this is a refreshing change..
And it is wonderful to see someone actualling taking the plunge to return and look at all the positives. Cheers chitra!

Chitra said...

To look at the positives was not the aim, Usha! Actually, I wanted to write about our experiences in general, but it just so happened that the last few posts have all been positives. I am the person benifitting the most from this blog. :)

Prashanth said...

I believe its comparing Apples to Oranges. Power Purchase Parity ensures that what you pay there is bit higher than what we pay out here.

Cheers

Chitra said...

Prashanth, welcome to my blog. I agree with you. It is comparing apples and oranges, in a true economic sense, i.e., comparing expenditures of a person who has lived only in the US or only in India. Since that is not the case for us, at the end of the day it is just comparing expenditures of a family that has relocated to India. I do see our medical expenditure to be significantly lesser here.

Also, the medical expenditure is not "a bit higher", it is many many times higher. Almost uncomparably higher. Taking an extreme example, a cardio-bypass surgery that costs 2.5 lakhs INR here costs a few hundred thousands of USD. The medical insurance companies are to be blamed and are the culprits, so much so that the doctors themselves openly criticize them for the faulty mecical system there.

Pradeep said...

A good insight... Still it is better to avoid a doc for a cold or cough... unless it is high fever... It's harder to put up with the side effects of the anti-biotics than with the cold itself. Some common home remedies work better...

Chitra said...

Welcome to my blog, Pradeep.

Absolutely, it is always good to avoid meds especially the antibiotics. That was the reason why I didn't go earlier, however it got so bad that I was almost gasping after 10 steps 'coz of the dry cough, and had no choice but go to one and resort to antibiotics. Now, I am 100% better. :)

Prashanth said...

Hi,

Thanks for the Welcome.

Well, I understand your stand. For theoretical purpose, I computed the cost of a Open Heart Surgery in US vs India on GDP (PPP) basis and was suprised by the results.

A Open Heart Surgery in US costs $1,50,000.00 compard to a Median of $6,000.00 out here in India (Source: http://tinyurl.com/sjxab).

Taking the GDP (PPP) of India vs US, this can be converted into a expense of 1.80 Years vs 3.62 Years in US. (Source:http://tinyurl.com/3pt4k).

But on the other side, since Medical Insurance is a must (sort of)in US, the number of years will be lower whereas in India, Medical Insurance is just starting to pick up though majority of the population are without any cover (Medical or Life).

Ravi said...

Chitra,
Thanks for your insightful post and the subsequent analysis that it has generated. While I'm watching from the sidelines, I would like to say that I'd rather be here that over there and I'm not even bringing Bush into the picture! Like Rakesh Sharma mentioned on Times Now y'day on the India Poised programme - Saare Jahaan Se Accha, Hindustan Hamara!

Chitra said...

Prashanth, thanks for all the added info. I have been meaning to respond with a reference to a particular article. Unfortunately, my Inet connection has not been co-operating, and I have not been able to locate the said article. Please do search for Paul Krugman's articles on U.S. medical care. They are very insightful.

Ravi, Thanks! I agree about 'Saare Jahaan Se'. However, I must confess that I totally love Calif. It was home away from home for us. :)

Ram said...

There is a spelling mistake in the headline of this post.

Chitra said...

Thanks Ram! It is rectified.

vidya said...

Digging up this old thread, I am not sure if "Sicko" is out in India. If it is then go watch it. Might be an eye opener but again, it is a Michael Moore's movie so it's completely upto your personal preferences.

Chitra said...

Vidya, welcome to my blog. I get a feeling that you have been a regular here. Though I think this is your first comment. Thanks for the movie mention. I went to IMDB and read the synopsis. Very interesting. Yes, even without an in-depth knowledge of the medical care system in the US, it is not hard to see that it is fairly flawed. I feel bad for the docs, cause they are so caught up in all this. A lot of the docs there are very, very good. At least the ones that I went to. Absolutely hated the insurance part of it.

I don't think 'Sicko' is in India yet. However, even if it were, I would find it hard to watch it from start to finish, especially with people dying because of indifference. I know it is a case of a crane with its head in the ground, but what to do. Reality is sometimes so hard to see. Thanks for stopping by!

Chitra said...

Sorry, I meant like an 'ostrich' with its head in the sand!

Jeeva said...

I happened to come across "The medical insurance companies are to be blamed and are the culprits(" in one of your comments. Just the other day, my hub and me were complaining that we do not have the insurance overseeing the doctors here in India.
The reason - well, the doctors would not be free to prescribe any and every test under the sun - probably just to repay off their loan on the hospital.
I am probably cynical, but I am always doubtful when these doctors prescribe some tests.