$700 cancer surgeries not cheap enough for one of world's least-expensive hospitals

Dr. Devi Shetty, a heart surgeon at Narayana Health City in Bangalore, India, provides some of the world's lowest-cost surgeries. However, under a new national health insurance program, his prices may have to sink much lower, according to Bloomberg Business.

Dr. Shetty is the founder and chairman of India's 23-hospital chain Narayana Health. According to Bloomberg, Narayana Health may have some of the cheapest healthcare costs in the world. Dr. Shetty charges $10,000 for a pulmonary thromboendarterectomy, a procedure that can cost more than $200,000 in the U.S. Head and neck cancer surgery starts at $700. A heart transplant? $11,000.

Investment bank Jefferies estimates Narayana Health can provide some major surgeries for half of what its domestic rivals do — and turn a profit. Narayana posted an $8 million profit in 2017.

But under a new national health insurance program that launched in September 2018 called Modicare, which aims to cover 500 million of India's poorest, the government's reimbursement rates are lower than Narayana's prices, according to Bloomberg.

While this means Dr. Shetty has to cut costs even further, he told Bloomberg he thinks it is possible and could be a model other countries could look to.

"We are trying to produce a pilot for the rest of the world to follow," Dr. Shetty said. "In 10 years, India will become the first country in the world to dissociate health from affluence. India will prove that the wealth of the nation has nothing to do with the quality of healthcare its citizens can enjoy."

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