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Medical tourism in the news – Los Angeles Daily News

An August 13 story in the Los Angeles Daily News is titled “Low rates lure more Americans to venture abroad to have surgery”. It has some interesting tid bits about medical tourism.

One item is the story of how Planet Hospital got its start. They are a service that connects western patients with overseas doctors and hospitals. They got started when one of the founders, Valerie Capeloto, had to seek treatment at a hospital in Thailand while on vacation. After the great treatment and amazing cost she and her husband realized there was an opportunity to market overseas medical services to western clients. That is a common experience for all of us who have experienced the difference, especially in Thailand where not only the medical treatment is excellent and prices amazing, but the warmth and hospitality of the caregivers is truly heart warming. Planet Hospital has expanded to include several countries in their list of referals. Their website says they don’t mark up fees from doctors and hospitals, and only charge a $297 fee for their services. But they are pretty tight with any information, not even providing links to hospitals they mention like Bumrungrad and Yanhee. You must engage with them and pay the fee to learn more. For those who want to do more of their own research and know the prices directly for yourself read through our pages and posts.

In the Los Angeles Daily article there are a couple of other testimonials, including that of Sharon Taylor, 63, who went to Belgium for a hip replacement. Total cost including two first class tickets, food and surgery was $26,000. In the U.S. the cost is estimated at $43,000 to $63,000 which would have been out of pocket for the uninsured Taylor.

A new twist on medical tourism is expressed by Roger Gariano, owner of Vita Nova, a small glass and marble business in Van Nuys, California. He sees how he could now afford to provide medical coverage for his employess by outsourcing the care to overseas providers.

Of course there are always the naysayers, like David Dranove, director of the Center for Health Industry Market Economics at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He says it is rare patient for which overseas medical treatment makes sense. The truth is quite the contrary, and that should be obvious when you learn a little about the quality of care in places like Thailand and the tremendous cost savings. Anyone who is uninsured or under-insured, or wants an elective procedure, or wants to be pampered by adorable smiling nurses during their hospital stay, would be a good candidate.

Insurance coverage for overseas medical treatments is still somewhat elusive. Larry Akey, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, says there are two issues. One is who is liable if something goes wrong. And the other is how would insurance providers evaluable the quality of care of foreign doctors and hospitals. Well, here’s some advice. If you are looking to sue somebody then stay home. The reason costs are so high in many western countries is well known – it is because of outrageous awards from law suits that drive up malpractice insurance. As for evaluating the quality of care, that is a red herring. It is done the same way everywhere, by hospital certification agencies. The international ones have standards that are as high or higher than those in the U.S.

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