By Sanjay Mehra
Incumbent US President Barack Obama sealed a convincing victory in the US presidential election by winning both the electoral college and popular vote count over his Republican contender Mitt Romney. Media reports indicate that NRI's played a pivotal role in tipping the race in Obama's favou,r particularly in the swing states, with new revelations that nationally 75 per cent of the 3 million NRI's voted for Obama. The initiation of strong Democratic party relationships with the Indian diaspora had earlier been laid by Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and Obama apparently continues to enhance those strong bonds.
In an exclusive teleconference with ANI , Indian American Heart surgeon and Healthcare economist Dr Mukesh Hariawala spoke about the economic implications following Obama's reelection.
He conveyed that " Indo US ties will pick pace, experience strong resurgence and will see a golden era in President Barack Obama's 2nd term, as the timing is optimum with PM Manmohan Singh aggressively steering the UPA government's reform policies.
The synchrony of both events has created an ambiance for big business opportunities that will benefit all stake holders for two of the world's largest democracies.
Dr Hariawala emphasised that traditionally a good portion of the second term of all United States presidents is engaged in legacy building, honoring unfulfilled first term promises, completion of key projects and laying the foundation for a sustainable foreign policy.
In an interconnected global economy, President Obama realises the Geo Strategic importance of India in the Asian sub continent and its leadership role in the BRICS group of developing countries, and will expectedly offer the olive branch to India to maintain a counter balance to the growing influence of China as an emerging superpower ".
The healthcare marketplace implications of Obama's second term will be varied, and Dr Hariawala explained that " Obamacare " is the acronym for the Healthcare Bill proposed by President Obama during his first term which has been limping through congress for over 2 years. It is now likely to sail through and soon will become a historic law with health coverage offered to every American including the ones with pre existing medical conditions.
There will be an addition of 15 per cent new patients converging on the existing resources of hospitals and health service providers. As a by product, this will increase waiting periods for elective procedures giving birth to a somewhat socialised form of health system like prevalent in Canada and UK. The phenomenon of " Medical Tourism " which has been incubating for years is likely to take off in a very big way to serve patients who will not have the patience to wait for their surgical procedures and may choose to go overseas ".
Further, US insurance companies will compete on a soft footing with the low cost government insurance programs under " Obamacare " and are likely to see profitability diminish. Thus, they would encourage Medical Tourism to stay in competition and are likely to structure incentive based insurance plans for customers willing to go overseas for procedures with continued emergency medical access available in the US.
India is best positioned to take advantage with its extensive network of highly qualified well trained doctors supported by an infrastructure of world class corporate hospitals offering the same services as the US, at 20 per cent of all inclusive costs for most procedures . This according to Florida based MTA ( Medical Tourism Association ) could bring in billions of dollars of revenue giving birth to a highly competitive parallel healthcare industry.
" Obamacare " will also necessitate revamping of all the computing systems handling healthcare which would open a wide door of business opportunity for Indian IT companies. Purely for financial reasons, this will in all likelihood compel the US government to continue large outsourcing contracts. The key economic driver of Obamacare vision is to reduce the trillion dollar healthcare burden on the exchequer. One method likely to be employed is government supported encouragement in larger usage of generic medicines for the US population. This major paradigm shift could benefit the competitively priced Indian generic drug manufacturers who could dominate the supply chain, said Dr Hariawala.
He summarised the prognosis by saying that " Medical Tourism revenues , increased IT contracts, generic drug company revenues, overseas insurance company investments in Indian healthcare facilitated by friendly retail FDI policies, all cumulatively would accelerate the GDP trajectory from a limping 5 per cent to the earlier projected 8 per cent rate. This undoubtedly will help increased multi sector employment and improve living standards for a good portion of the Indian population ".
On a concluding note Dr Hariawala said " I would personally like to see rural India be the biggest beneficiary of this projected era pf prosperity in India ".
Harvard trained, Dr Mukesh Hariawala who is a qualified MBA and visiting professor at few US universities teaches International Healthcare. He was recently conferred the " India's Most Admired Surgeon " award by Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan. Additionally, he is an Honorary Cardiac Surgeon at Mumbai's Jaslok hospital.