Considering an inflation of 7 % per annum; over the years heart surgery is cheaper now.
- There are very few medicines or surgical procedures that reliably improve quality of life (QOL) like bypass surgery. QOL improvements come about by removal of chest pain and breathlessness. This allows the patients to enjoy their life unhindered. Most hearts that are bypassed improve in function and the patient gains substantial improvements in life expectancy.
That heart surgery is expensive is rooted in history. Heart surgery started over 6 decades ago and in the beginning it really was expensive. Even in western economies heart surgery remained out of the reach of people who were not insured by the state or their insurance. Over the past three decades consumption of hardware has increased and medium to small-scale industries have sprung up for production of disposables. In addition automation has impacted economics of heart surgery.
During the last decade and a half, techniques have been developed for routine coronary bypass surgery (CABG) that allows surgery without use of heart lung machine and its associated expensive hardware. Off-pump surgery as it is called, drove down prices of bypass surgery. Roll back of prices for off pump bypass surgery has forced the manufacturers and distributors of pump hardware to reduce tag prices for the hardware. The net effect is that today heart surgery (whether bypass or open heart surgery) is as expensive if not cheaper than what it used to be almost two to three decades ago.
I remember a college senior whose civil servant father needed a bypass operation in 1984. The cost of bypass surgery in Delhi then was Rs. 150,000/-; he also calculated that he would have to pay Rs. 600,000/- if he went to US for treatment.
Currently the base package price for bypass surgery in the country is about Rs. 200,000/-. In Delhi most hospitals have a semi-private package in the range of Rs.175,000/- -250,000/-. Mumbai is a bit costlier with expenses in the range of Rs. 350,000/-.
The expenses for bypass surgery in private hospitals in India have remained more or less the same as they were some thirty years ago. Considering an inflation of 7 % per annum over the years there has been an actua reduction in cost of heart surgery.