CHENNAI, India -- As startling numbers of Americans go without health insurance, more of them see their only hope in fleeing to far-flung nations like India for life-saving medial treatments.
The dearth of affordable health insurance has engendered a new breed of what the New England Journal of Medicine classifies as "medical refugees" -- patients traveling abroad for heart surgery and other crucial procedures -- that has grown sharply in the past two years.
The phenomenon of "medical tourists" -- people who casually travel to foreign lands for face lifts or breast implants -- has been well documented. But the new exodus of patients are looking for more essential care. Indian hospitals welcome these sick travelers with open arms, often lavishing them with more attention than they could expect in their home country.