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Would you travel abroad for health care?

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trillionaire

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These people did...


By Danielle Dellorto
CNN Medical Producer

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- "I was a walking time bomb. I knew I had to get on that plane if I wanted to be around to see my grandkids."

Sandra Giustina is rolled into surgery to correct her atrial fibrillation at Max Hospital in New Dehli, India.

1 of 2 Sandra Giustina is a 61-year-old uninsured American. For three years she saved her money in hopes of affording heart surgery to correct her atrial fibrillation. "They [U.S. hospitals] told me it would be about $175,000, and there was just no way could I come up with that," Giustina said.


So, with a little digging online, she found several high quality hospitals vying for her business, at a fraction of the U.S. cost. Within a month, she was on a plane from her home in Las Vegas, Nevada, to New Delhi, India. Surgeons at Max Hospital fixed her heart for "under $10,000 total, including travel."


Giustina is just one of millions around the world journeying outside their native land for medical treatment, a phenomenon known as "medical tourism." Experts say the trend in global health care has just begun. Next year alone, an estimated 6 million Americans will travel abroad for surgery, according to a 2008 Deloitte study. "Medical care in countries such as India, Thailand and Singapore can cost as little as 10 percent of the cost of comparable care in the United States," the report found.


Companies such as Los Angeles-based Planet Hospital are creating a niche in the service industry as medical travel planners. One guidebook says that more than 200 have sprung up in the last few years. "We find the best possible surgeons and deliver their service to patients safely, affordably and immediately," said Rudy Rupak, president of Planet Hospital. "No one should have to choose between an operation to save their life or going bankrupt."


Full Article
 

klewis

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I do - I always go to my dentist in India - a crown would cost around US$600+ in NZ, in India it costs me about US$100. I go to the optometrist there too and I save $10000s and it always gives me an excuse to travel.
 

klewis

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Date: 3/29/2009 7:48:01 PM
Author: klewis
I do - I always go to my dentist in India - a crown would cost around US$600+ in NZ, in India it costs me about US$100. I go to the optometrist there too and I save $10000s and it always gives me an excuse to travel.

That was thousands I save and not tens of thousands!
 

starsapphire

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Wow, It kinda sucks that people have to do that. But, it is an excuse to travel. At least it is available somewhere on planet earth!
 

perry

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I would consider it for selective issues - and be selective about where I went for medical treatment.

This is actually part of why a lot of people retire with their SS income to a series of countries. They can live well - and get decent medical treatment on their SS income in those countries - and would be dead broke with limited medical treatment on the same income in the US.

I note that for over a year I purchased a specific asthma drug (Tilade) from a Canadian Pharmacy while its availability was suspended in the USA due to requirements that it be reformulated due to its freon based "carrier." The drug company in question completely missed on having enough US stock for US needs - and the new production facility took an extra 9 months to come on line. It was interesting that I was able to get the drug in Canada from the old production line - but not in the US.

Perry
 

swimmer

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I walked past lots of plastic surgery/spa places in Buenos Aries. It seems very popular. I have had to seek medical treatment while traveling and have always been shocked at how reasonably priced it is. A broken tooth in Germany (watch out for roasted nuts from street vendors) cost $80 to get a cap put on it. Yeah, that is about 2,000 at my dentist here. A broken arm in Australia cost slightly more than $100 at the clinic to get set and in a cast. Why must treatment be so outrageously expensive in the US? Oh, and I also didn''t have to wait for hours to get treatment in either emergency.
 

neatfreak

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Date: 3/30/2009 6:57:15 AM
Author: perry
I would consider it for selective issues - and be selective about where I went for medical treatment.
Ditto.
 

trillionaire

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Date: 3/30/2009 6:57:57 AM
Author: swimmer
I walked past lots of plastic surgery/spa places in Buenos Aries. It seems very popular. I have had to seek medical treatment while traveling and have always been shocked at how reasonably priced it is. A broken tooth in Germany (watch out for roasted nuts from street vendors) cost $80 to get a cap put on it. Yeah, that is about 2,000 at my dentist here. A broken arm in Australia cost slightly more than $100 at the clinic to get set and in a cast. Why must treatment be so outrageously expensive in the US? Oh, and I also didn''t have to wait for hours to get treatment in either emergency.
I think Americans assume that our service is superior, and therefore justify the price differentials. I wonder if more Americans KNEW about the extreme price differentials, if they would question the pricing here more. I mean, how DID we get so far off in costs? I would absolutely use it as an excuse to travel and simultaneously get affordable health care. I mean, I think any excuse to travel the world tends to be a good one!
 

strmrdr

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Date: 3/30/2009 6:57:57 AM
Author: swimmer
Why must treatment be so outrageously expensive in the US?
liability insurance
congress run by lawyers that wont pass tort reform.
to many lawyers that have to find someone to sue to make a living.
 

trillionaire

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Date: 3/30/2009 4:00:17 PM
Author: strmrdr
Date: 3/30/2009 6:57:57 AM

Author: swimmer

Why must treatment be so outrageously expensive in the US?
liability insurance

congress run by lawyers that wont pass tort reform.

to many lawyers that have to find someone to sue to make a living.
I don''t speak lawyer.


What is Tort Reform?
 

Lauren8211

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One of the most significant contributors to health care costs is administrative costs, including advertising, collecting money for unpaid bills, and covering the costs of unpaid bills.

Plus, unlike traditional economics, an increase in supply of doctors does not mean a decrease in price. Comparatively, we have the highest ratio of specialists to primary care providers in the US, and we pay for it. More doctors in the US = More cost. Doctors have to up the cost of their services, and provide more services to make up for fewer patients.

Since our hospitals are for-profit, they have to "compete" by spending more and more on the best technology to advertise that their hospital is the best equipped, even though the equipment often times goes unused. Those costs also need to be made up.
 

trillionaire

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Date: 3/30/2009 4:20:03 PM
Author: elledizzy5
One of the most significant contributors to health care costs is administrative costs, including advertising, collecting money for unpaid bills, and covering the costs of unpaid bills.


Plus, unlike traditional economics, an increase in supply of doctors does not mean a decrease in price. Comparatively, we have the highest ratio of specialists to primary care providers in the US, and we pay for it. More doctors in the US = More cost. Doctors have to up the cost of their services, and provide more services to make up for fewer patients.


Since our hospitals are for-profit, they have to ''compete'' by spending more and more on the best technology to advertise that their hospital is the best equipped, even though the equipment often times goes unused. Those costs also need to be made up.


My poor wallet...

 

miraclesrule

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It's a cryin' shame, but people in San Diego travel to Mexico all the time for dental work. My massage therapist paid 1/4 the cost that I did for a dental implant, and he didn't have nearly the hassle or problems that I did.

It's a shame.
 

HollyS

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Not on a bet.

Not to save money.

Not to get treatment unavailable here.

Not a chance.
 

AllieGator

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I grew up near the NY/Canada border, and plenty of people go over the border to get health care. My mother got laser eye surgery in Canada, because she has an astigmatism in one eye, and at that time laser surgery for astigmatism wasn''t approved in the US yet. It was also much cheaper then it would be in the US.

I probably wouldn''t go abroad for something that my insurance would cover in the US, but if it was something elective and uncovered (laser eye surgery, cosmetic braces, etc), I''d consider going abroad if it was to a country with reputable health care and lower prices.
 

zhuzhu

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Sure.
Until the current healthcare system is improved, you need to do what you need to do.
 

luckystar112

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I would.

My only problem is when people cross borders and don't PAY (Mexicans/Latin Americans coming to America.....Americans going to Canada, etc.).

I hope that Americans will eventually take a stand.
I was reading up on Brazil in one of my classes, and apparently they have the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in Latin America. Because of this, they don't take any crap from pharmaceutical companies. A Swiss company tried to sell them an HIV drug for too much money, so they broke the patent and started producing them there. Then they sold them to Africa for 40% less than the other companies.

Some people think it's wrong...I don't. Their President warned them that he intended to break patents if the prices weren't lowered, and he followed through.
There was one U.S. company, Merck, that was trying to sell a certain drug to Brazil for $1.10 per pill. They sold it to Americans for $1.59 per pill and Thailand for $0.65 per pill. Talk about inconsistent.

So Brazil said "Thanks but no thanks" and bought the version produced in India for $0.45 per pill.

I think they (Brazil) are making the right decisions for their country.....even though it's very controversial.

The reason why I'm even posting it is because I think if more countries were to take a stand against the outrageous prices, they wouldn't HAVE to go out of the country.

But then again, I don't really know what I'm talking about on a "macro" level. So ignore me if you're laughing at this post.
 

miraclesrule

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Great point luckystar....

I might also add, from information learned long ago, that the antibiotics you are giving your pets, is the same as the one prescribed to you. So don''t bother getting your own rx, just take the dogs. It''s much, much cheaper. Well, at least it was in 1999.
 

iluvcarats

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Date: 3/31/2009 1:41:16 PM
Author: HollyS
Not on a bet.


Not to save money.


Not to get treatment unavailable here.


Not a chance.
But would you for green eggs and ham?

(Hi Holly!
sorry, couldn''t resist!)
 

beau13

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Date: 3/31/2009 9:58:19 PM
Author: luckystar112
I would.

My only problem is when people cross borders and don''t PAY (Mexicans/Latin Americans coming to America.....Americans going to Canada, etc.).

I hope that Americans will eventually take a stand.
I was reading up on Brazil in one of my classes, and apparently they have the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in Latin America. Because of this, they don''t take any crap from pharmaceutical companies. A Swiss company tried to sell them an HIV drug for too much money, so they broke the patent and started producing them there. Then they sold them to Africa for 40% less than the other companies.

Some people think it''s wrong...I don''t. Their President warned them that he intended to break patents if the prices weren''t lowered, and he followed through.
There was one U.S. company, Merck, that was trying to sell a certain drug to Brazil for $1.10 per pill. They sold it to Americans for $1.59 per pill and Thailand for $0.65 per pill. Talk about inconsistent.

So Brazil said ''Thanks but no thanks'' and bought the version produced in India for $0.45 per pill.

I think they (Brazil) are making the right decisions for their country.....even though it''s very controversial.

The reason why I''m even posting it is because I think if more countries were to take a stand against the outrageous prices, they wouldn''t HAVE to go out of the country.

But then again, I don''t really know what I''m talking about on a ''macro'' level. So ignore me if you''re laughing at this post.
It would concern me too, if Americans were coming to Canada for healthcare and not paying. We are fortunate to receive free healthcare, but I was under the impression that it''s provided for only us..Canadian citizens ??
 

luckystar112

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I don''t know Beau, but I would assume you have to prove your a citizen somehow, right? Canada should offer healthcare to American citizens for 50% off American costs. Canada will make a buttload of money, and our country will be forced to reform.



Yes, I realize this would not work.
 

beau13

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Date: 4/2/2009 7:22:10 PM
Author: luckystar112
I don''t know Beau, but I would assume you have to prove your a citizen somehow, right? Canada should offer healthcare to American citizens for 50% off American costs. Canada will make a buttload of money, and our country will be forced to reform.



Yes, I realize this would not work.
Everyone gets a health card, with your photo on it..similar to a driver''s license. Whenever we visit a doctor, clinic, dentist..etc..you show your health card. After watching Oprah today, I felt so sorry for one mom who didn''t want to bring her child to a doctor (in order to avoid the bill). Turned out her baby needed medical attention, and had a respiratory disorder. She racked up a $12000 medical bill, and her and her husband are both currently unemployed. I can''t even imagine paying $1000 for medical expenses, let alone over $10 000. I was reminded again of how fortunate us Canadians are in that aspect. Although.. I do know of some Canadians who pay big bucks to travel to the US for MRI''s, since there is a such a long waiting list for that here in Canada. (12 months minimum). Even surgeries sometimes, take 1-2 years. Some people will pay whatever amount, just to have a procedure done sooner in the US (especially if they are very sick).
 

starsapphire

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Beau, why does it take so long to get an MRI and other things in Canada? Is this what we have to look forward to in the US?
 

LostSapphire

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Date: 4/2/2009 8:29:31 PM
Author: starsapphire
Beau, why does it take so long to get an MRI and other things in Canada? Is this what we have to look forward to in the US?
I think I can shed some light on this popular misconception:

There are actually a lot of MRI machines in Canada. Part of the problem, is the backup for follow up appts with specialists. Orthopaedics, for example, is a real problem area, as there is a shortage of specialists + an aging population. It can take 1-2 years to get a hip or knee replacement.

So *sometimes* when you hear of waiting for the MRI, it is those patients in the queue for surgeries that are also in the queue for MRIs. And when the patient isn't getting in to see the specialist for months and months, guess what kind of priority the MRI appt gets? hmm, often fairly low as well.

Speaking from personal experience (and I have a whopping medical file to prove it) I have found that when there is an identified, urgent need for an MRI, those patients are moved up the priority list.

For example: in November it was determined that I needed an MRI to confirm a nerve compression in my brain. MY MRI WAS DONE WITHIN 6 DAYS. This was not a simple task, it took an aggressive secretary from my doctor's office, my follow up calls on a daily basis, plus, a neurosurgeon willing to assign a higher priority to my file.

On the other end of the spectrum, so many doctors order MRIs for absolutely everything, when quite often a CT scan, ultrasound or general X-Ray would do the trick. Part of the problem is patients seem to think the MRI is the 'be all and end all' for diagnosis. That is not the case. So we have tens of thousands of people in the queue for the testing.

That's where the prioritization/triage protocols kick in.

No healthcare system is perfect. Ours certainly isn't. But I can tell you about patients in the US who had the same condition as I (I belong to another forum). One woman had her surgery the same week as I did. She had waited 6 months to see a neurosurgeon. I waited a week. She had to provide financial security for the $47k the hospital wanted against the cost of the surgery. Me? nothing. It is paid for through my taxes, which I GLADLY remit in return for healthcare when I needed it most.

Sorry for the ramble. I'm quite proud of how we do things here!


LS
 

VegasAngel

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Ive never had to wait more than a week for an MRI & I have to get one once a year. I have never experienced any delays in procedures either. I have noticed getting into to see a specialist can take time. This probably varies by city/states I would guess. For instance getting appts. to see an endocrinologist here can take some time.
 

AllieGator

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I'm not Canadian, but I grew up near Canada, and have many Canadian friends.

From what they've told me, what LostSapphire said is right--if an appointment is urgent, you will get it. If it's something that can wait, then you are put further down on the list.

They also said that they are much happier paying higher taxes and getting the health care, than the system in the US.

Speaking from personal experience, and I hope this isn't TMI, when I was younger (Like 11-14), I struggled with severe clinical depression, and was hospitalized for my own safety a couple of times. If my parents hadn't had great insurance, and we hadn't lived in a state with parity, my medical bills would have been over $10,000. I have a friend in the same position, but her family didn't have insurance and were stuck with the bill.

Conversely, a Canadian friend of mine has a younger sister with chronic mental health issues (schizophrenia). She's had to be hospitalized many times for her own safety, and it's been covered. She's said that she's so thankful for the system, because there was no way that her family could afford that kind of treatment in the US.
 

Diamond Confused

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Date: 3/31/2009 11:23:57 PM
Author: miraclesrule
Great point luckystar....


I might also add, from information learned long ago, that the antibiotics you are giving your pets, is the same as the one prescribed to you. So don''t bother getting your own rx, just take the dogs. It''s much, much cheaper. Well, at least it was in 1999.
Yeah great way to increase the rate of antibiotic resistance-prescribe yourself your dogs antibiotics.
 

allycat0303

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MRI`s are intresting in Canada. If you need and MRI, and I mean NEED, you will get it stat. But they''re aren''t that many indications when you need one. For head trauma, we do a CT scan (you get it as soon as you can get down there). I suppose for a space occupying lesion, when we suspect metastatic cancer, you get it stat too. Possible disc herniation with neurological consequences. Stat (technician comes in 24 hours a day for it). Where it gets tricky is, oh you have pain in your knee, could be something, it''s unclear, hurts, but you can still walk and function, then 6 months. By then, 80% of the time, your knee is better. And what would an MRI have done? Told you what it was that really wouldn''t have needed surgery anyways. Torn ACL, within 1 week. And to clarify, stat to me is the time it takes the paperwork to get down in a NON emergency, immenient death time frame (so 1 hour).

As for American''s travelling to Canada for medical reasons...I haven''t seen an American yet. For Lasik. Well that''s private and not offered by public healthcare. Honestly, I think American''s are 100% benefitted by coming to Canada for that. It was approved in Canada WAAAY before US and the opthalmo''s in Canada have done many, many more procedures then the doctors in the US (in many cases).

If I had something rare, and the pre-eminent specialist was in another country, and I needed his opinon, I would pay to go see them. I don''t know if I would get SURGERY (major) at a foreign country though.
 

Amanda.Rx

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It would depend on what country. The US health care system is not always superior, but sometimes it is- depends on what you''re comparing it to.

My finace'' studied abroad in Germany and wasn''t feeling well (dizzy, tired, nonspecific symptoms), so he went to the hospital clinic in town. They did a spinal tap, an MRI, a CT scan, drew vials of blood, but in the hospital over night, and his copay was................ 10 Euro (that''s like $15). He paid 60 euro a month for health insurance and they gave him a complete work up for next to nothing.

The difference... heath insurance is mandatory in Germany (like auto insurance is here). It drives the premiums down when everybody has to dish out for it.

Why is hospital care so expensive? The uninsured in the US treat the emergency room as a doctor''s office, and then they don''t pay because they can''t pay. The emergency room is the most expensive place to be seen, and then the hospital ends up eating the bill for it, so they have to charge other patients more money so that they can pay the staff that work there, etc. Medicaid/Medicare/government reimburse for some of it, but not nearly as much as it costs to treat the patients, so the hospitals end up losing lots of money on them- and they cannot refuse treatment.

It''s a very backward system... and Storm is right- the US is a very litigious society- as a health care provider, you''re constantly worried about getting sued- which drives up the cost of health care (ordering more, unecessary tests, etc.). People with sue you at the drop of a hat here.
 
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