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By Marc Meisfelt (2010)
Asians have a different business mentality than Europeans or Americans, especially when it comes to medical services.
Americans and Europeans are accustomed that medical services are a seller's market. This means that the services are in short supply, and that one has to make appointments long ahead, and that often, one will have to be wait-listed.
The reason why medical services in Europe and America never are a buyer's market is, of course, the way medical services are paid for: through insurances.
Insurances collect premiums (payments), and in principle, the premiums of an insured are the same, regardless of whether medical services are used or not.
Insurances have a vital interest that those insured (the patients) will use medical services as sparsely as ever possible, because then, the insurances don't have to pay for consultation and treatment.
Another aspect is the education of physicians in Europe and America. This is paid for to a substantial extent by the government. For the student, it may be free, or the student will pay much less than what his courses actually cost. And hardly any professional education is as expensive as that of physicians.
So, governments in Europe and America are interested that fewer people study medicine than actually want.
Insurances that don't want to pay for medical treatments, and governments that don't want to pay for the education of physicians add up to medical services being in short supply. That is why in Europe and America, you have to schedule major medical services long ahead. And because such a system creates a sellers' market, medical services are expensive.
Every person in his right mind will prioritize health, and as an extension of that, an appealing physical appearance and a projection of youth.
Furthermore, many more students would like to get into medical school than are admitted.
Wouldn't it make sense to let more people go to medical school, and let them pay themselves, and then, let them market their services, and charge patients directly.
Among other effects, such policies will finally result in a buyers' market, where prices, naturally, drop because more service providers will enter it. Because they will have to compete, they will be concerned about efficiency.
That is the situation as it develops in Asia, especially in the field of cosmetic surgery and other cosmetic treatments.
Currently, Thailand may be the best-known example, as it does have, in the large cities, an excellent medical infrastructure, which already is used by an international clientele.
But the future will be China. In no other country is such a high proportion of young people so dedicated to achieve an advanced education, and in no other country is the domestic market so competitive.
Not only can factories in China produce the cheapest computers and video recorders. I have had myself the cheapest dental work ever done in China, and it was an excellent job. And I am sure that some time in the future, many of us will be using Chinese physicians, just as we now buy 'Made in China' computers.
Not that Chinese medical services wouldn't be state of the art at low prices already now. What currently is still lacking in China is not so much medical but linguistic sophistication. Most Chinese physicians can't (yet) sufficiently communicate with international patients.
But they are catching up.
And when medical services, and not just cosmetic medical services will be a buyers' market, you will walk into a hospital, be examined after practically no waiting period, and whatever the diagnosis, treatment will be available on short notice.
For cosmetic surgery procedures, you already have a buyers' market in Thailand. And the reason is that for cosmetic surgery, people pay it themselves, and don't process payments through insurance companies.
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Copyright Marc Meisfelt