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March 21, 2007


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Some corporations who self insure are encouraging patients to do this. They will even cover flying family over with the patient and split a part of the savings.

Mexico is another alternative to US healthcare, but I would tend to trust India more.

Cost of having a baby in Mexico: about $1,100
Cost of having a baby in Rural USA: about $18,500

The funny thing is that an insurance company will only end up paying about $6,000 in the US because they have deals with the hospital and standard payment amounts. It seems that someone paying for healthcare on their own should be able to get a rate at least as low as the insurance company.

I have used a company called Planet Hospital to help me with my medical tourism needs and all I can say is WOW!! they saved me a lot of money for my breast cancer biopsy and surgery plus they got me a flight at the last minute as well for ultra cheap and then, Tong, their representative in Singapore was always there for me when I needed him for even the most mundane things.

Compare this to the uncaring cold care I get here in the States, I am amazed more people are not jumping in the bandwagon.

The services and products of the American medical establishment are commodities that are subject to the same laws of supply and demand as anyone else's. So when people decide to take their business abroad, the considerations are essentially the same as in any other financial area. The fact that one's own life & body are at stake in the outcome only serves, in my opinion, to underscore the fact that ALL invasive medical treatment is necessarily a gamble. I suspect that the quality of medical care abroad is probably superior to what one encounters here, and that the possibility for managerial and administrative mishaps is greatly reduced. As for insurance, if people really understood what their contracts provide and don't provide, that would be an even further incentive to seek help abroad.

> Walter Reed

Had been outsourced to a private company.

> Social Security

SS is an interesting problem. Good idea (unless you liked the system we had before SS), implemented fairly well at first. But the congresspeople chose to push even more of the SS burden onto the young (though various borrowing schemes). Did Al Gore's lock box plan go down with his political career?

> medical care abroad

The invisible hand at work. US medical care is very expensive. I pay almost as much for not-the-best family-coverage medical insurance as I do for federal taxes!

No facts, but I do wonder about the quality. Is care in India cheaper than ours despite all the permit-Raj that companies have to go though? Or is it that all costs in India are lower due to other reasons (cheaper labor sources, uneven exchange rate?). Or perhaps the quality of non-routine emergency care is worse?

I travel a fair bit to India and have experienced pretty good care there. I have all of my annual dental work done there for a fraction of what it would cost here. The work is done by a professionally-trained, English speaking dentist who was formerly a dentist in the Indian armed forces.

Medical tourism is rising and the country has plenty of doctors. Much medical care is paid for either by charitable organizations or the government. Fee-for-service medicine is popular with India's rising middle class.

And not to derail any private sector/govt debate, but I absolutely guarantee you that there are highly trained docs and employees both in govt and outside of govt, and bums in govt and in the private sector.

India offers free care in union territories and I happened to get sick in a union territory. I received free care despite being a foreigner, and offering to pay. I also needed care in Delhi, and walked into the nearest clinic. It was staffed by a Sikh doctor and staff, and the care was free, paid for by the nearby Sikh temple. Again, my offers to pay were declined.

Anyways, it is a booming sector over there. The wage disparities make everything look cheap to a visitor.

Having just returned from a 20-hospital tour in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia (our new book, "Patients Beyond Borders: Everybody's Guide to Affordable, World-Class Medical Tourism" was launched there in February), I can say that not only is treatment less expensive (by 30-80%), but the quality of the care and customer service in these hospitals is like nothing most Americans have experienced.

Squeaky clean, uncrowded lobbies and waiting areas, direct cell-phone contact with your physician/surgeon, unhurried recuperation periods, excellent post-op care.

While international medical travel isn't for everyone--or every procedure--it pays in spades for US patients to become better-informed about healthcare opportunities abroad. Either that or be left increasingly without choice, languishing in a broken US healthcare system.

Well, here in the UK, we have government funded healthcare and health tourism is relatively common for things that are unavailable on the NHS and cheaper abroad such as cosmetic surgery and for multiple attempts at IVF (you are allowed 3 attempts for free if you fit the criteria).

Its also growing for most other elective surgeries that you might want to get privately (to jump the queue). Its not as popular as it is in the US.

I'm not saying the the common care in India and other developing countries is poor. But what happens if you have sudden heart failure due to a complication during a procedure? Will the care be as good then? Do they have the equipment readily available? What if it's possible, but very expensive to keep you alive? Will they do it? What if the chances are less than 10%, would they draw the line?

I'm just wondering why there is such a huge difference in the price. Exchange rate is one reason. Cheap labor is another. I don't buy that these countries have less regulations, so that's out... Is it that they chose the 80/20 rule, helping 80% of the people, but leaving 20% out to dry?

I travelled with my sister for her Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) surgery to India just a few months back. BHR was, by the way, approved only recently in the US so there were hardly any experienced surgeons in the US performing this surgery. On the other hand, in India it's being performed for many years now. Besides the cost was about $50,000 in the US where as in India she spent only about $14,000 and that included the medical costs, the hospital stay, the round-trip air-fare for both of us, the hotel stay, the physiotherapy and many other things.

My sis registered with a medical tourism facilitator called Healthbase Online ( for her medical tour. They let her do all the research possible on their website related to procedures, hospitals, doctors, etc. They booked the hospital for her, booked our flight, got us our visas, reserved our hotel and did almost everything for us. They even helped my sis get a medical loan. The only thing we had to do was board the plane. Amazing service!

And India is nothing like it's portrayed on the television. Our hospital was uncrowded and clean, the staff spoke English, the doctors and infact everybody was helpful and professional, the equipments were state-of-the-art, the facilities were modern. I can only say you have to experience it yourself to believe it!

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