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Medical tourism flourishing in Philippines while U.S. health care costs skyrocket

By: Jerome Douglas Article From News Target

The Health Undersecretary of the Philippines -- Jade del Mundo -- recently stated that the bustling medical tourism program of the Philippines is allowing new doors to open in the nursing field, adding that the current multi-million dollar medical tourism program would be expanding in the provinces of the Philippines next year.

Medical tourism is a rapidly growing industry in the Philippines, with prominent hospitals in metropolitan Manila like St. Luke's Medical Center, Asian Hospital, Medical City, Makati Medical Center, Capitol Medical Center, Lung Center, Philippine Heart Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Philippine Children's Medical Center and East Avenue Medical Center affiliated with the program.

Along with such rapid growth comes a need for skilled nurses. Health Undersecretary del Mundo indicated that "there will be no discrimination" in the hiring of nurses to serve the bustling growth in the medical tourism industry. He also said that top government hospitals in the provinces -- particularly in the Central Luzon, Baguio, Cebu, Iloilo and Davao provinces -- will soon be joining the medical tourism program as well.

Hospitals operated by the Filipino government plan to provide proper training for all new nurses. These hospitals are attractive to foreign patients because of lower costs on surgical procedures, in addition to being located near popular tourist locations in the Philippines.

For example, hospitals in Bicol, Cebu and Davao have been offering surgical procedures such as the coronary artery bypass graft at a cost of only $10,000, about half of the typical cost in countries outside the Philippines. A more extreme example would be a kidney transplant, which is available in Davao and Cebu hospitals at a cost of $60,000. This same procedure could cost $140,000 in other countries.

With health care costs in the U.S. rising every year at a rapid rate, more and more Americans are looking to countries like the Philippines to have medical services performed. In 2004, total national health expenditures rose 7.9 percent, which was over three times the rate of inflation. Total health care spending reached $1.9 trillion in 2004 -- or $6,280 per person -- and represented 16 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States.

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