Medical tourism becoming popular

  • by crv.staff
  • 11.05.09
  • 6:59 PM UTC
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I’ve posted in the past about the great savings available for people that travel to Costa Rica for medical treatment. Recently, the Fox affiliate in Orlando aired an interesting piece about someone that is planning to travel to Costa Rica for care.

Source: My Fox Orlando
Published: Thursday, 30 Apr 2009

By: DAVID MARTIN | WOFL FOX 35 News

When you get back from vacation, people ask you about the weather, the food, the hotel. But more and more, those questions are morphing into “How was your hospital bed?”

It’s a trend called “medical tourism; people spending their “trips” in surgery or in hospitals.

For example, Will Asen of Haines City lives with unbelievable pain. He’s a father of three, soon to be four.

“I can’t grab things,” says Asen. And he’s a youth league football coach! “I can’t carry anything heavy,” he adds.

That’s because his right elbow is a mess: shredded bones.
Asen says he absolutely needs arthroscopic surgery. Price range: $20,000 to $50,000 here in the states.

Way too costly for Asen, who has no insurance. Which is why he’s going on vacation so to speak! He’s heading to Costa Rica for a bit of medical tourism.
“There was Mexico, there was India. But those places aren’t too safe to travel to, especially with family,” says Asen.

Asen discovered Costa Rica through a California company called WorldMedAssist. They found him a qualified doctor and hospital in Central America.

“We help hundreds of people a year. The types of procedures we help these patients with could be as simple as dental treatment all the way to heart bypass or liver transplant procedures,” says WorldMedAssist CEO, Wouter Hoeberechts.

“He’ll receive a lot of attention from the doctors as well as the nursing staff. And after a hospital discharge, he’ll stay in a nice tropical surrounding. And all of this, he’ll get at $15,000 cost savings,” says Hoeberechts.

And there it is. Asen’s elbow fix will cost a flat $5,000.
Plus three thousand in travel & lodging expenses. In total, $8,000.

A far cry from the $20,000-plus he’s been quoted in the United States.

“It’s a good deal. It’s a good surgeon. A well-known surgeon over there,” says Asen.

But not everyone thinks its a great idea.

“I wouldn’t do it. In the U.S., our hospitals are so highly regulated,” says Dr. Timothy Hendricks, Medical Director of the Florida Hospital Employee Clinic.

“It would concern me about going to another country and if they have all of those regulatory agencies in place,” argues Hendricks.

“Will’s going to get treated at a very high quality hospital. A hospital that’s internationally accredited. Very nice hospital. High standards of care. He’ll also be treated by a very qualified orthopedic surgeon,” counters Hoeberechts.

He adds, “I could argue that the risk Will will face with our hospital will be lower than that of a U.S. hospital because of the extensive due diligence we do on these foreign hospitals.”

Dr. Hendricks is also concerned about follow-up care once Asen’s back home.

“You’re going to be hard pressed to find a surgeon that wants to take over the care of another surgeon that’s in another country,” submits Hendricks.

“We make it part of our process to ensure that after-care is taken care of well before the patient gets on a plane. And we found that doctors in the U.S. are willing to cooperate,” counters Hoeberechts.

In the end, Asen feels the benefits far outweigh any risk that might arise on his upcoming trip to Costa Rica. “You have to be positive and hope for the best,” says Asen.

And in his case, the pain is far too strong to ignore anymore.
“I spend nights where I don’t sleep. Couple of hours in bed, my arm gets numb. I mean, it’s really bad.”

WorldMedAssist does follow the policy guidelines for medical tourism set forth by the American Medical Association.

Asen is scheduled to have surgery in Costa Rica in mid-May.
We’ll follow his progress while he’s down there. And we’ll also file a report upon his return.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

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