Thursday, 28 June 2012

Will falling rupee give fillip to medical tourism?


Last few months have not been good for Indian currency and it has seen constant beating. At over 57 for each dollar, it has lost its glory of the past years. India’s oil imports are also adding fuel to the fire of rising inflation. However, many pundits believe a weaker rupee is good for India’s exports as our companies and Indian products and services become attractive again to the western buyers.

In this context, it should also be a good news of Indian healthcare businesses because the affordability for the foreign patients would increase for getting treated in India. I am particularly not sure whether currency plays any role in a foreign national’s decision in taking treatment in low-cost medical destinations. There may be other factors too, like the perception of the country, local support for the foreign citizens, language support, expertise in the health domain for the hospitals etc. But if at all someone is price-conscious and have a favourable outlook towards India, I think it is a good time for that patient to look at getting treated here.
Another aspect is the turmoil in the Euro-zone. Given the fact that many European countries are struggling bankruptcy and jobs are at risk, affordability of healthcare would also become a major concern for some countries. I think there also the scope of medical tourism can be explored. One website claims that the medical tourists stand to save up to 75% of the cost of similar care in their own countries because of the weak Indian currency.

What are your views on this matter? Do you think currency and exchange rate matter when a patient decides on taking treatment? Have you experienced an increase in inflow of foreign patients in your hospital in the recent times because of the currency fluctuations? Does a weaker currency also benefit Indian healthcare providers in another domain?

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