How To Make Health Care Affordable: Medical Tourism!

With all the debate going on with health care, you'd be forgiven if you want to skip this post. But I think I've found the solution to making health care affordable for Americans: just outsource it to Thailand.

Eric Wahlgren of AOL's Daily Finance has the story of medical tourism:

Like some 47 million other Americans, Nancy Sowa (pictured) doesn't have health insurance. So when her doctors last year told her she needed a total hip replacement, the office manager for a non-profit did what a growing number of U.S. citizens are doing: She headed abroad. At Wockhardt Hospital in Bangalore, India, the 56-year-old was put up in a hospital "suite" far swankier than what she would typically find in the U.S., with a computer, fridge, cable TV, sitting area and an extra bed for her travel companion.

More to the point, the two-hour surgery in July, performed by an orthopedic surgeon trained in the U.S. and Australia, was a success. Four months later, the Durham, N.C. resident is feeling like her old self again, going for long hikes and planning her next vacation. The final tab for the procedure, including rehabilitative therapy and round-trip airfare for two? $12,000. That's a fraction of the $45,000 to $90,000 she had been told the surgery would cost at home.

"I wouldn't have been able to do the surgery in the United States," says Sowa. "I didn't have to explore taking out a second mortgage or tapping family members because I had this other option."

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The medical procedures in Mexico can cost dramatically less than they would cost a person in the United States, sometimes even if that person has insurance that just doesn’t cover all the costs. The hospitals in Mexico are of high quality and the doctors are well trained and as pointed out many of them are schooled in the U.S. Why not save a substantial amount of money then and go elsewhere? Just be sure to do your proper research and learn everything you can about the facility and the doctor.
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nice sugary coated story. here is some reality for you

Personal Risks

Yet for all the appeal that medical tourism holds, it’s not without its downsides, which are in fact considerable. The first big problem is that medical tourists have little legal recourse if things go wrong. In 2007, one patient wrote the U.S. embassy in Bangkok, describing her horror story after undergoing botched plastic surgery.

“…I have been scared, mutilated, and disfigured by offshore plastic surgery in Thailand,” she began. After surgery, the patient removed her facial bandages and was appalled at what she saw, but could do little about it: “After the doctor refused to refund my money, or pay to have the damage he had done to my face fixed by another doctor, or do the surgery over again himself, I attempted to report the doctor to government and professional medical associations to no avail. I was completely ignored by the Thailand Medical Council, the Thailand College of Surgeons, and the Medical Association of Thailand. I wrote a formal complaint to the hospital where the surgery was performed…and it was ignored.

“Even the attorney I attempted to hire just gave me a run around for several weeks promising to take action against the doctor and never doing so. He initially was very eager to take my case, but shortly after doing so, he not only lost interest in the case, but became an apologist for the doctor. This appeared to have everything to do with me being a foreigner, attempting to take legal action against a wealthy and influential Thai plastic surgeon.

“I later discovered that there are extremely few successful medical malpractice cases against medical doctors in Thailand that result in a cash award. Currently, there are only about 60 outstanding medical malpractice cases on file with the Medical Council of Thailand for the entire country, and this number of cases is being pointed to by Thai Medical Council authorities as being unacceptably large.”

This is just one story, of course, but it illustrates an important fact, best summed up by Miami plastic surgeon James Stuzin in a 2006 Fox news segment: "The liability and the responsibility that physicians have to their patients in America is very high, and that doesn't necessarily exist in foreign countries if you have a problem."
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Excellent- eliminate the middle man in that most US hospitals and health providers are shipping patient records offshore to India for processing. In this case, ship the whole patient!

Maybe we can do this with legal issues next!
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I can't believe you guys let things get to the point where people have to leave their country to find affordable medical care. You need a proper health care system that isn't run by insurance companies.

As far as I'm concerned, in this day and age, universal health care is a basic right along with clean water, freedom of speech and voting for your leaders.

When I hear of Americans who are against it, it always reminds me of people in places like Afghanistan who try to interfere with elections. You want to ask them why they want to deny themselves this basic right, but you're afraid they might try to bite you.
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