MedRetreat – Medical Tourism

June 25, 2009

The Irony of Healthcare Reform and Medical Tourism

One way or another, healthcare reform is coming to the U.S.  Regardless of how the final details turn out it will not serve as the be-all and end-all solution to our national healthcare system that many are wishing for.  There are no perfect healthcare systems in the world that delivers access to all in a cost-effective, fair and equitable way. If there were, we could simply copy such a model as our own and quickly move on to the next issue of the day.  

The current policies that the Obama Administration and the Democrats are proposing will most likely evolve into a form of government-centric nationalized system, meaning that the bureaucrats in Washington will ultimately take the chains of command and decision making away from the doctors and their individual patients.  

This type of plan is not a new and innovative at all. To see the ramifications of such a system, all we have to do is look at the results from Canada and England.  

Although we don’t hear stories coming out of Canada and the U.K. about someone being denied healthcare access due to financial constraints, we often hear about: 

  • Government rationing due to high cost of care
  • Extensive waiting times for non-life threatening conditions, such as 3 to 5 years for a hip or knee replacement
  • Higher mortality rates for many forms of cancer because the government deems the medications too costly
  • Older patients being denied access because of their age.

As a result of these governmental constraints, millions of Canadian and British patients have been travelling to foreign countries for decades in order to receive immediate medical access for their conditions which they were denied in their home countries. This mass exodus led to the exponential growth of the medical tourism industry.

In more recent years, uninsured and underinsured U.S. patients have been traveling to foreign countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, India, Mexico, and Costa Rica for many surgical procedures that are a mere fraction of the cost in the US. 

If our government ends up establishing a nationalized healthcare system, it’s ironic that while group a of citizens will not have to worry about travelling thousands of miles away from home for affordable surgical procedures any more, another larger group of citizens will elect to travel far and wide for immediate access. 

Regardless of the reform that is achieved in the U.S., it is apparent that medical travel will continue to increase. For anyone seeking medical care abroad, regardless of reason, it is important to research and understand all the issues to best guarantee safe outcomes.  For comprehensive information about medical tourism, pick up a copy of the recently published Complete Idiots Guide to Medical Tourism, by Patrick Marsek.   This book spells out all the options, pricing estimates, destinations, and pertinent information for a safe and stress-free medical retreat.


June 16, 2009

Healthcare Reform — Which Way Do We Go?

It now appears all but certain that healthcare reform is coming, perhaps sooner rather than later. As the US Congress and health industry lobbyists gather inside the Washington, D.C. Beltway, the atmosphere for dramatic change is boiling through the halls of K Street office buildings and stretching straight to the chambers of our nation’s Capital. But what will this change mean to average American citizens? 

Although the final details of the healthcare reform bill have yet to be concluded, according to Dr. Bernadine Healy in “7 Ways Health Reform Is Going to Affect You,” in this weeks issue of US News & World Report, “enough common threads have emerged to indicate that people should start looking beyond the headlines now for an idea of how the new system will affect them personally” In this article, Dr. Bernadine highlights seven ways that our healthcare experience will change as a result.   

The common thread of these changes entails massive taxation and redistribution from one sector of our economy to another. However, this multi-trillion dollar undertaking will impact everyone, as targeted consumptions taxes will likely be levied on items from sodas to wine and much in-between. 

Aside for the huge spending required to overhauling our ailing healthcare system there was one point that is gaining more traction as a valid alternative to the ever-increasing price, which is referred to as medical tourism, or treatment abroad.  

For many years now many uninsured and underinsured Americans have been traveling to foreign countries to undergo surgical procedures ranging from hip and knee replacements, spinal fusions, total disc replacements, and hysterectomies, to all forms of cosmetic and dental procedures. 

According to Dr. Healy, medical tourism may “become routine as a way to save insurance plans as much as 80 percent of the cost.” With this much savings it is easy to see why medical tourism is gaining so much attention as the debate for change heat’s up.   

However, when considering all the benefits of medical travel, the patient’s safety should not be overlooked. There are many issues to consider when traveling thousands of miles away from home to undergo surgery. The logistics alone are a major undertaking and the margins for error are daunting. This is where the use of a medical tourism facilitator can ease the potential pitfalls of a medical retreat. Medical tourism facilitators like MedRetreat guide each individual through a highly structured process from the very beginning until well after the patient has returned home to best guarantee a safe and stress free experience. 

Medical tourism is not brand new concept in the U.S. — Thousands of North Americans have already laid the path for this industry to begin serving the mainstream.

June 8, 2009

The Benefits of Medical Outsourcing

It’s understandable that a large percentage of Americans have a very negative image of outsourcing in today’s globally competitive economic environment.  Over the past two decades many American employees in the manufacturing sector have experienced first-hand the adverse effects of their jobs being shipped to China where the wages are a small fraction in comparison.  The mass media, along with politically expedient politicians have also been decrying the loss of jobs in mass to lower wage countries like Mexico, China, and India. 

In more recent years, we have been witnessing this outsourcing as it has moved up the value chain and impacting white-color jobs, such as software development, accounting work, legal documentation, and even medical imaging analysis. 

As the debate on the pros and cons of outsourcing rages on, a new phenomenon has been picked up by the mass media that is referred to as “medical tourism.” Simply defined, medical tourism is the practice of traveling outside the U.S. for medical procedures ranging from hip and knee replacements, spinal fusions, artificial disc replacements, hysterectomies, to all forms of cosmetic and dental procedures. 

Although traveling great distances for medical care is certainly not a new phenomenon, uninsured and underinsured Americans have discovered that globalization has mostly leveled the playing field in terms of quality and technology at many hospitals around the world and are able to achieve substantial cost savings through global currency arbitrage. 

To be sure, medical tourism is not the end-all solution to our ever growing healthcare crisis here in the U.S.  That being said, the outsourcing of medical care affords significant benefits that should not be overlooked.   

The Benefits of Medical Outsourcing

  1. People suffering in tremendous pain, but can’t afford the high cost of care in the U.S., have an immediate and cost effective solution by traveling to a world class hospital for their procedure.
  2. The growing shortage of doctors and surgical specialists will be addressed as the domestic market is expanded to a global market.
  3. Medical tourism is creating smarter and more demanding consumers of heath as they seek out options beyond their local providers. 
  4. Medical tourism is placing the responsibility and management of healthcare in the hands of the individual where it should be as people are nudged into seeking out new options. 
  5. Competition has always been the American way and we all know that it vastly improves products and services, while lowering prices at the same time.  Medical tourism is already beginning to make a small impact on the pricing of many procedures by providing patients bargaining power that never existed before. 

There are of course many other benefits to medical outsourcing.  These points simply provide some very important positive factors to the debate on medical outsourcing.  For those concerned that medical tourism will threaten the jobs of healthcare providers in the U.S., it is extremely unlikely.  For starters, emergency cases must be treated immediately and do not have the time to travel.  Also, there is no need for people to travel for healthcare if they are insured here in the U.S.  

For more information about medical tourism and healthcare outsourcing options, please visit MedRetreat.  MedRetreat was established in 2003 to protect and assist Americans in seeking healthcare outside the U.S.  MedRetreat has developed a proprietary and highly structured process to best guarantee a safe and stress free medical travel experience.

June 1, 2009

As The Healthcare Debate Continues, Is There An Immediate Alternative to Medical Access?

According to the recent article “The Death of U.S. Healthcare,” by Dick Morris, in “The Hill,” the  $2 trillion cost savings presented to the Obama Administration by the health insurers and providers earlier this month will not solve our healthcare crisis.  For all intensive purposes it appears that our democratically controlled Government will proceed in establishing a form of nationalized healthcare system, where access to all will be guaranteed  to all.

However, the “elephant in the room” in our national healthcare debate is that of simple economics.  Healthcare is not an infinite resource.  There are only so many doctors and hospitals at any given point in time.  Although guaranteeing healthcare access to all may seem like the nice or right thing to do in a society, there may not be enough doctors to go around.  As Mr. Morris points out, “our national inventory of 800,000 doctors is growing at only about 1 percent year .  To stretch these doctors to treat 50 million more people is possible only through rationing.”  

To be sure, our out-dated healthcare system is starving for vast reform and will require the attention of the best and brightest minds.   But our capitalistic approach has created the most advanced healthcare system in the world where new technology and drugs are saving the lives of millions of people.  Are we sure that we want to go down this road of nationalization?  Many advanced economies, including Canada and England have nationalized systems and they don’t offer many successes that we should be attempting to emulate.   

As this debate continues, many uninsured and underinsured people suffering in pain has found a viable and immediate solution to their pain through medical tourism, or traveling to a foreign country for medical procedures. Many regions of the world offer world-class medical care at a mere fraction of the cost in the U.S.  To learn more about medical travel, please visit MedRetreat, a U.S.-based medical tourism facilitation agency that connects patients to their affiliate hospital network in 10 countries.

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