The cost of lung surgery in India is a major concern for patients and their families. A report published in Lancet Global Health suggests that the burden of chronic respiratory disease in India accounts for 32% of the global burden. A significant proportion of these diseases need surgery for cure. According to the WHO, lung cancer is the second most common cancer in India, with an estimated 1.3 million new cases in 2020. As per Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in India, accounting for 27% of all cancer deaths. Surgery is the first line and most effective treatment for early stage lung cancer. With increasing incidence of lung cancer, the demand for lung surgery is also increasing. However, a survey by ICMR also found that unfortunately only 25% of lung cancer patients in India receive the surgery they need due to financial constraints. In this article, we will explore the factors that affect the cost of lung surgery in India.
II. Factors Affecting Lung Operation Costs in India
A. Type of surgery – Open vs Minimally Invasive
There are several factors that can affect the cost of lung surgery in India. One of the most significant factors is the type of surgery. According to a study by the Indian Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, open surgery is still the most common type of lung surgery performed in India, accounting for 85% of all lung surgeries. However, the trend towards minimally invasive surgery is increasing.
Minimally invasive surgery is less invasive and typically has a shorter recovery time. Video Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS) and Robotic surgery are the most common forms of Minimally invasive thoracic surgery. In VATS the surgery is completed through tiny key hole cuts on the chest and by introducing a camera and long working instruments. It also utilizes specialised equipment called “Endostapler” which is required to cut and seal blood vessels, bronchus and fissure. So the usage of these adds to the cost. In Robotic surgery, a robot is docked on the patient and disposable robotic arms are used to perform the surgery through small incisions.
The cost of minimally invasive surgery for lung cancer can range from $4,000 to $8,000 (~ INR 350,000 to 650,000), while the cost of open surgery for lung cancer can range from $3,500 to $5,500 (~ INR 300,000 to 450,000).
B. Location of the hospital (e.g. rural vs urban)
Another factor that affects the cost of lung surgery in India is the location of the hospital. According to a study by the Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery, the cost of lung surgery is higher in urban hospitals compared to rural hospitals. But it is very important to understand that lung surgery is a complex procedure which requires multi-disciplinary involvement. These surgeries are rarely available at rural hospitals because of lack of trained personnel, equipment and dedicated infrastructure.
C. Experience and qualifications of the surgeon
The experience and qualifications of the surgeon also play a role in determining the cost of lung surgery. According to a study by the Indian Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, the cost of surgery performed by more experienced and highly qualified surgeons is higher compared to less experienced surgeons. The study found that the average cost of surgery performed by a senior consultant was around $7,500 (~ INR 600,000), while the average cost of surgery performed by a junior consultant was around $5,000 (~INR 400,000).
D. Use of advanced technology and equipment
The use of advanced technology and equipment as mentioned before can also affect the cost of lung surgery. Hospitals that use state-of-the-art technology and equipment may charge more for their services.
E. Insurance coverage and availability
Insurance coverage and availability can also play a role in determining the cost of lung surgery. Patients who have insurance may pay less for their surgery than those who do not.
III. Cost Comparison of Lung Operations in India
A. Comparison of costs for different types of lung surgery (e.g. lung cancer vs other lung diseases)
As mentioned earlier, the cost of minimally invasive surgery for lung cancer can range from $4,000 to $8,000 (~ INR 350,000 to 650,000), while the cost of open surgery for lung cancer can range from $3,500 to $5,500 (~ INR 300,000 to 450,000).
The cost of lung surgery for other lung-related illnesses such as bronchiectasis, tuberculosis, emphysema, empyema thoracis, lung bulla, lung abscess, aspergilloma etc. can also vary. For example, the cost of minimally invasive surgery for other lung disease can range from $3,700 to $7,000 (~ INR 300,000 to 550,000), while the cost of open surgery for lung disease can range from $3,500 to $5,500 (~ INR 280,000 to 450,000).
The exact surgical expenditure may also depend on many other factors like general condition of the patient. A fit and stable patient pre-operatively is likely to have a smooth recovery and shorter hospital stay leading to lesser costs. Compared to that a very sick patient or an unfit candidate may need longer pre and post surgery hospitalisation including ICU stay. They may also require blood transfusions, higher generation antibiotics and other supportive therapies. All this will lead to a higher cost of the overall hospitalisation for surgery.
B. Comparison of costs at different hospitals and locations
Lung surgery cost will vary from city to city, and even from hospital to hospital, based on the expertise of the team, the equipment used and the overall general tariff of the hospital.
C. Analysis of how costs vary based on the room category
Additionally, the cost of lung surgery in the same hospital will vary depending on the room category chosen by patient. This is true for most corporate and private hospitals in India. For example the cost of the surgery would be cheaper in a sharing room as compared to a single or deluxe room and would be even higher in a suite room.
It’s important to note that these cost ranges are approximate and may vary depending on the specific case and the hospital or surgeon.
IV. Strategies for Managing Lung Surgery Costs in India
Managing the cost of lung surgery in India can be a challenging task, but there are several strategies that patients and their families can use to make the process more manageable.
Patients can use online resources, such as hospital websites and review sites, to gather information about the costs of different types of lung surgery and the qualifications and experience of different surgeons. They can also ask for recommendations from their primary care physician or other healthcare professionals.
Another strategy is to explore options for insurance coverage and financial assistance. Patients can check with their insurance provider to see if their policy covers lung surgery and what the out-of-pocket costs will be. They can also look into financial assistance programs, such as those offered by hospitals or charitable organizations, to help cover the costs of surgery. Many crowd-funding organizations in India are there to help genuinely needy patients like Ketto, Milaap, Impactguru etc. Most hospitals have a tie up with these funding agencies and can provide documents for smooth processing of a patients funding application.
Lung surgery is a critical treatment option for many lung-related illnesses, such as lung cancer, infectious and inflammatory lung diseases. However, the cost of lung surgery in India can be a major concern for patients and their families. By understanding the factors that affect the cost of lung surgery in India, patients and their families can make more informed decisions about their healthcare.
We have discussed the importance of researching and comparing costs at different hospitals and with different surgeons, exploring options for insurance coverage and financial assistance, considering alternative treatment options, and working with a financial advisor. By utilizing these strategies, patients can manage the costs of lung surgery and access the care they need.
It’s important to keep in mind that the cost of surgery is not the only consideration when choosing a hospital or surgeon. Factors such as the hospital’s reputation, the surgeon’s qualifications and experience, and the availability of advanced technology and equipment should also be taken into account.
You can get in touch with the team of Dr. Kamran Ali who will help you make a more informed decision about your health, and help you access the best possible individualised treatment option while also managing the cost of the surgery.