Last updated date: 10-Apr-2023

Originally Written in English

Why Prices Differ between Markets

  • CloudHospital

  • General Health

  • Global Healthcare

One of the main drivers of why medical tourism is on the rise in the world is the awareness by an increasing number of consumers of medical services that the world offers a variety of prices for the same procedures, often at a higher level of overall satisfaction. Many governments around the world regulate medical services in various different ways, with some having fully nationalized healthcare and some having a private system with some backstop basic services for their less unfortunate population. There are many factors resulting in often times wide price differences around the world. The most extreme example is that of the United States, with the highest costs for medical procedures due to several factors. The factors contributing to its high costs are labor costs, regulations, administrative costs.

Doctors and support staff labor costs in the US are often at the top of the world rankings, across many measures. They are often twice that Europe and even higher when compared to Scandinavian countries. The regulations often protect the pharmaceuticals and related entities, shielding them from negotiated pricing for prescription drugs often resulting is exorbitant prices for medicines related to procedures and maintenance. On top of that, due to the US having fifty states with their own medical laws and insurance companies having to adapt to each state regulation adds to the mounting costs of medical services to the end user, the patient. Often the paperwork is a heavy component of the administrative costs with multiple tiers of paper pushers in the network, so to speak. On top of these inherent problems, the US also often lacks doctors and nurses resulting in immigration related to the lack of supply. The immigration is often from less developed nations in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America resulting in a compromise of quality relative to the final costs to the patients. Due to mounting overhead and related costs, many hospitals push back on acquiring state of the art medical equipment which is commonplace in places like South Korea.

Another set of reasons why medical services might cost a lot less in places such as India, Thailand and South Korea relative to the West are less obvious – it has to do with the level of experience the doctors in these countries have in their specialties. Lots of experience results in fewer failed diagnosis and better results. Also, due to lower costs of delivering a quality service and less times associated with paperwork, doctors are better able to practice what they are trained to do, often from the top institutions around the world. They are paired with the best equipment and technologies often only available to the most privileged in the West. More experience with the latest devices helps produce results that are superlative relative to their costs. An efficient ecosystem of supporting services is also ample in the named places, resulting in further patient satisfaction and more efficient delivery of needed procedures and treatments.

Having stated the cost differences between countries, it is also worth mentioning that cost differences across diseases and its corresponding procedures and treatments. Some of the differences in price can be pronounced. For example, the cost of a heart bypass surgery is multiples times more expensive in the US versus South Korea (roughly about four to six times). For knee replacement surgery, it is often two to three times more expensive. For spinal fusion, about five times more expensive. As we can see, the cost differences can be very extreme if specific procedures are examined.

In some cases, the cost comparison may not be about obtaining the best services at the best prices in an absolute term. In reality, many are bound by their personal situation and budget constraints. Navigating the multitude of choices in wide variety of countries and medical establishments within can be an overwhelming task. CloudHospital makes it easy to search for the best medical services providers that fit the needs of the patients given their personal budget situation. Delivering the best value within each price level category is what we do best. CloudHospital’s vast knowledge of doctors, clinics and hospitals across many geographies allows the patient to feel safe in knowing they have chosen the best possible solution given their unique personal constraints.