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A new kind of medical tourism? (patient and surgeon go to another country)

ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77170 replies672 postsRegistered User Senior Member
https://khn.org/news/to-save-money-american-patients-and-surgeons-meet-in-cancun/
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/09/business/medical-tourism-mexico.html

Basically, the US patient and the US surgeon fly to Mexico to do a knee replacement in a hospital there. The patient's husband's (self-insured) employer paid less, while the surgeon was paid more. The cost of the hospital was much lower, as was the cost of the exact same implant.
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Replies to: A new kind of medical tourism? (patient and surgeon go to another country)

  • katliamomkatliamom 12783 replies167 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Yea, I saw this article and marveled at the economics of a health care "system" where it's so much cheaper to export doctor and patient that you can pay them BOTH well to do it. Unbelievable.
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  • snowballsnowball 2697 replies243 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    The doctor I work for knows one of the doctors from Mayo that participates in this. Medical Tourism sure is changing! I for one would not have a major surgery and then hop on a plane back home; I would worry about complications. That said, not sure I would want to sit and recuperate in another country either; guess I will continue to receive my health care in my neighborhood.
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  • HImomHImom 34100 replies389 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 14
    I participate in "medical tourism" of a sort, in that I have been seeing MDs that are out of my state for the past 20 years. So far, it has always been for evaluations and helping tweak my medications and I have been happy with it.

    My neighbor was allowed to fly from HI to Sloan Ketering in NY for his stem cell treatments for cancer after they did all they could for him in HI. His insurer, Kaiser paid the entire $1M tab for them to fly and all travel & medical expenses? I and they were surprised!

    Personally, I'd be quite nervous about flying for another country for a surgery or invasive medical procedure, even if the surgeon was a US MD. There are just too many things that I'd be concerned about, but if one is strapped for cash and the price points work out, I can easily see why others have opted to do this. It IS crazy how expensive care is in the US.
    edited August 14
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  • CountingDownCountingDown 13359 replies110 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I'd be concerned about having a knee replacement and then getting on a plane. The risk of clots is non-trivial.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3706 replies16 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Kinda cool but I would have to have more then one case to make it worth it.
    We started doing "office" surgery over 20 years ago. Complete Or with recovery bay and anesthesiologist or nurse anesistist. Almost no infections. For an implant that we use for flat foot, we charge $1500. The hospitals charge $3,000-6 000 for the exact same one.
    So in the US. This seems to be a more common model you will here about in the next few years. There seems to be a push for it.
    But I would be happy to go to Cancun for a few cases each month 🌞😁.
    I know someone that used to fly back and forth to St. Thomas... Not a bad deal.
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  • BunsenBurnerBunsenBurner 38589 replies465 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I have been to such OR! :) I had an outpatient torn labrum repair. In and out, no hospital involved. Loved it. Went to work on crutches soon after the procedure. Just rode my regular bus (had fun kicking the cool kids out of the handicap seats), bu there is no way in hell I would have gone on a plane a few days after that surgery! Going through security at the airport on crutches - ugh, no.
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  • great lakes momgreat lakes mom 2975 replies28 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    You could go through the airport in a wheelchair. Having been with my mom transiting airports in wheelchairs, not a bad way to travel.
    Years ago when medical tourism first hit the news, I got in touch with a company and was offered an at home job doing health histories on the phone, screening folks who would later travel for procedures. (RN here) They mentioned the possibility of eventually accompanying an occasional patient to and from the country where the surgery was to be performed, as I know one of the hospitals they use in Thailand. My empty nest years have been filled in other ways, but I still think it sounds an interesting job. As Thailand does luxury so well, I have thought that offering a surgery and recovery package in a resort afterwards might be an attractive way to keep costs low and appeal to people.
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  • yucca10yucca10 1218 replies36 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I know a woman who went to Guatemala for surgery, of all places. Her relative was a head of a good private hospital there. The weird part is she went not because of cost but because her doctors here said they weren't able to remove her ovarian cysts without taking out ovaries, and her insurance (Kaiser) was very limiting with respect to doctors choice. Surgeons in Guatemala did this and she went on to have two more kids.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3706 replies16 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Any major country like Israel, Germany, Sweden etc you will be fine. Southeast Asia is the new area also. Plus it's dirt cheap once your there. There are also lots of doctors from Mexico that get trained in the states and then go live overseas. I would love to figure out how to do this one day or even train people where ever I end up at.
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  • BunsenBurnerBunsenBurner 38589 replies465 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    A stay at a resort after surgery is not very exciting. If you think it is, just wait until you have surgery. :) You can't go swimming, you can't go sightseeing or hiking, you can't even have a cocktail (even if you don't use a strong painkiller, you are likely on some sort of a med that does not mesh with alcohol, even Aleve is horse doses will not).
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 37841 replies2065 postsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    Same with Lebanon. I think a good number of the doctors in Beirut were trained in the states. When my son was going to get his wisdom teeth out, an oral surgeon trained at BU was going to do the procedure. Then, as often is the case over there, everything got screwed up and it was canceled. So that would be my bigger concern - not the competency of the doctor, but the many ways things can go awry.
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  • doschicosdoschicos 20616 replies209 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    A stay at a resort after surgery is not very exciting. If you think it is, just wait until you have surgery. :) You can't go swimming, you can't go sightseeing or hiking, you can't even have a cocktail (even if you don't use a strong painkiller, you are likely on some sort of a med that does not mesh with alcohol, even Aleve is horse doses will not).

    Same can be said for recovery at home but at the resort you have room service and maid service. And most American hospitals are not pleasant places to stay. :)

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  • rickle1rickle1 1817 replies14 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Friend of mine (FL) has his major dental work done in Mexico. FLies to San Diego. Has a nice stay there and then drives to dentist 30 minutes over the border. Saves about 70%-80%. Only downside, as he sees it, is he has to do several crowns and caps at once. Been very happy with the work. Modern facilities, latest techniques, etc. Who knew?
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  • threebeansthreebeans 696 replies33 postsRegistered User Member
    I think this is great - not only a win/win/win but also to put pressure on these hospitals that our costs here are a joke!
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  • BunsenBurnerBunsenBurner 38589 replies465 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I'll take the recovery at home over a resort or (ugh) hospital. :) Both times, I was able to cook light meals almost immediately after surgery. If one is so immobile that they can't be without room service, their place IS in a hospital, not in a resort.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3706 replies16 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Many people do this for plastic surgery. They might not want to rush home. No issues having a tummy then being on vacation for a bit before going home to show off your tummy tuck.
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  • WellspringWellspring 1486 replies9 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 16
    In my area there is a facility that calls itself a medical resort. I assume it's for recovery in the immediate aftermath of surgery. Not much of a view though.
    edited August 16
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  • katliamomkatliamom 12783 replies167 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    @rickle1 I knew :) A friend emigrated to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, a year ago. His dentist went to NYU. Has a state-of-the-art dental office. A cleaning costs $30. A crown $250.
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