Last night we had to give some end of the semester presentations, and one of the groups in my class discussed medical tourism. Just in case you don’t know what medical tourism is (as I didn’t), medical tourism is when someone from one country opts to get a medical procedure done in another country. The first thing that popped into my mind was that this must be a cost issue. People are getting heart surgery in India because it costs $30,000.00 while it costs $180,000.00 in the United States. It turns out that was one of the main reasons for people to opt for medical tourism, but there were many more motives. Another motivator was that the treatment they needed wasn’t approved by the FDA. They couldn’t get the treatment in the U.S. so they went overseas. If there was a cure for diabetes in another country I might be interested in giving it a shot. This next reason is what I really thought was interesting; people are participating in medical tourism because their health insurance companies are incentivizing them to do so!
Now I’m not sure how I feel about this. If I need heart valve replacement, which is very expensive in the United States, my insurance company will give me presents to get it done somewhere else. It’s obvious they would be saving a lot of money so they better give me some darn good incentives. It turns out that they are offering different incentives ranging from offering you a check based on the amount of money you saved them to paying for your whole “vacation”. Some of the insurance companies that are offering these incentives are Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield.
I’m curious to know how some of you feel about medical tourism. I know I would be nervous about the quality of work, but apparently there is a U.S. based non-profit agency that accredits hospitals around the world. I think a decision like this, like so many others I’ve discussed, needs to be made by an informed consumer.
Would you ever participate in medical tourism if it was proven you would get quality work, or is there no way you would be interested?
April 17, 2012 at 1:38 PM
I must say, it’s awfully tempting to go to another country and have a procedure done for a bonus incentive. We all have a different idea of value- my life is priceless! It would definitely depend on the procedure-it would have to be a life threatening procedure. : )
April 18, 2012 at 7:17 AM
What would give me comfort with the medical tourism idea is that you get choose where you want the procedure done. That would give me time to do some research and see how safe it really is. I remember hearing a story about some woman that got her dental done in Mexico and she ended up getting really sick. When they talked to her it was obvious that she didn’t look into the dentist at all! I couldn’t believe it. Luckily we can all use her story as an example.
April 18, 2012 at 11:01 AM
How do you really ever know who you can trust?? It’s so scary.
April 18, 2012 at 12:11 PM
I guess you never really know… But hopefully the accrediting agency is competent and you might even be able to contact other people that have had it done.
April 18, 2012 at 2:29 PM
I would hope so. That’s so scary even if you have testamonials. YIKES!!!
April 17, 2012 at 7:57 PM
If i was in a life or death situation or in a situation where there was no cure but a procedure in another country that has healed others i would do it. I read an article once how a girl with reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) was taken to Mexico for a procedure called a ketamine Coma that resets the entire nervous system.
She is put in a come for 5 days and when she awakens her system would essential be rewired back to the way it should be. This is a very costly procedure not done in the USA or Canada. The people with this disease when it becomes a full body disease are left with 2 options.. 1- they want to die 2- the ketamine coma… it’s interesting and many have made the costly trip that has essentially saved their life. So yes, I would do Medical Tourism.
Great Post Chris.
April 18, 2012 at 7:42 AM
I like hearing your point of view on this. You being from Canada, and Me being from the US, we are in very different situations when it comes to health care. From your side you have “Free” healthcare which is great unless you have a major issue. The times you really need to go to the doctor you can’t get in because the waiting list is too long. This would probably mean you would be forced to go to another country (atleast that’s what the US government tells us about your health care system). Then theres me, who is diabetic. I’m constantly worried about losing health insurance (primarily because diabetic supplies are outragiously expensive down here). It’s hard for me to even imagine needing surgery because I’m already wrapped up in the month to month medical struggle. It’s just interesting. Is there a good/affordable way to run a health care system/Health insurance system?
All I know is that people need to make the choice that works the best for them at the given point in time. Non of us what we would really do in those types of situations (unless you have a ton of money).
Here is something else to think about. Maybe you would do medical tourism for yourself, but would you do it for your wife or children? And I’m not talking about the ketamine coma, where it soundslike the give their patients horse tranqus. I’m talking about having them participate in medical tourism to save a buck.
April 17, 2012 at 9:27 PM
This links back to the selling of organs. Medical tourism can be good such as going to Mexico/Canada for cheaper drugs. Or going to Cuba for free heath care. It can aslo be bad such as going to Dominican Republic for plastic surgery or going to the East for harvested body parts. Does your article make a case for health care reform/Obamacare as it is supposed to reduce medical out-of-pocket costs by insuring everyone. With the factual statement that everyone will get sick at some point. I’m not for Obamacare but just asking.
April 18, 2012 at 7:30 AM
If I ever lose health insurance I’ll have to buy my insulin from Canada. It’s 1/4 of the cost.
I don’t think Obama care will reduce prices that drastically. I have no information to back that up except my own common sense. We are getting charged $180,000 for a heart valve replacement in the US and India can charge (from an accredited hospital) $30,000 for the same procedure. Will 30 million more American paying for health insurance decrease that $180,000 significanly? I don’t thinik so.
I’m not saying I don’t want health care reform, I do. I’ll admit it’s only because I’m diabetic. I like the law for no discrimination for pre-existing conditions, but Inorder for insurance companies to be OK with that they want the whole country to have to buy health insurance. I also think it’s smart to let people stay on their parents health insurance plan longer if they are in school. The United States Is falling behind in education, and the raising of the insurable age for students might get people to get graduate degrees.
I think it’s important to note that medical tourism can be done in a safe manner. Thanks for the comment!
April 18, 2012 at 6:27 PM
I would consider it. In fact, I did lasik eye surgery in Venezuela about 13 years ago.
April 18, 2012 at 7:00 PM
That’s great. How did you find the doctor you went to?
April 19, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Research on doctors and facilities to narrow down the search, but ultimately, the final decision was made based on personal referals. Now, with the explosion in online communications, I would imagine that I could gather even more information on such a decision.
CRMARS Medical Tourism Services
May 3, 2012 at 4:31 PM
It is actually very important to do research and then get referrals from facilitators, hospitals and doctors who are offering to do business with you. We talk constantly about safety to our patients but the reality is, Medical Tourism is about medicine and therefore not an exact science. Complication insurance, local presence and concierge service from someone with plenty of experience is the way to go. Those are a bit more expensive than arranging everything yourself but they will guarantee that you will be safe at all times and that complications, if they happen, will be fully covered.
May 3, 2012 at 8:13 PM
Thanks for the information! I bet your field of medical tourism is growing rapidly! It makes sense that you would want everything to be safe and taken care of. Happy clients equals more clients.