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Surowiecki reports: "This year, a few hundred thousand intrepid American travelers will head to places like Thailand and Costa Rica, in search of health care."

Bangkok's Bumrungrad International Hospital looks more like an International Hotel. (photo: News One)
Bangkok's Bumrungrad International Hospital looks more like an International Hotel. (photo: News One)

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+14 # Activista 2012-04-14 11:17
People worry about the lack of legal recourse? How lawyers make you healthy?
This is a problem with US - high insurance cost. Almost 70% of US personal bankruptcies are due to US doctor GREED.
$75 000 for hip replacement in US is obscene.
Go to Costa Rica - for great vacation and get your teeth fixed. Cuba has great medical potential - open borders!
+8 # John Locke 2012-04-14 20:19
Activista: How pathetic we are as a nation that our people must go to other countries to get medical care!
0 # Progressive Patriot 2012-04-16 01:12
The cure for my heart problems isn't being paid for by the insurance company ... I still owe $16,000 for ONE DAY in the hospital ... instead of surgery, I've changed my diet, and right now it's being paid for by food stamps.
+12 # walt 2012-04-14 11:58
I will dare to state what many are afraid to say....
The US medical profession is a means to wealth. Doctors rank among the richest in the nation and think nothing of the fees they charge. Health insurance and pharmaceutical companies are completely in cahoots with them as well. Until that is changed and gotten under control, people will continue to pay the price.
+3 # John Locke 2012-04-14 20:19
That price is sadly too often their life?
0 # HJ7 2012-04-17 18:14
Canada has no starving doctors. You could solve many of your problems with a. Simple law like the one in Canada limiting medical fees for non cosmetic care to the Canadian rate often a tiny fraction of what us medics charge. Like I said I see no starving Canadian doctors.
+3 # Activista 2012-04-15 14:29
My dental insurance was $1500. At first visit they did root canal - cost $1000 + Year later when my "root canal" tooth broke in half I realized that I did not need it, procedure destroyed my tooth, it was the way for dentist to make FAST BUCK. They refused to even look at the tooth for $100 cash if it is salvageable.
My paranoia is that they created the issue for future revenue stream (this is quite common at business models like MS).
To make PROFIT is priority over necessity - patient needs.
US is MONEY SICK society and US health care is the perfect example how this system/maximizi ng short term profit is NOT sustainable in the long run.
0 # Progressive Patriot 2012-04-16 01:15
The last time I went to a dentist, they kept only doing partial procedures, and having me come back for another session. Every time I went back, it was another $10 co-pay. I need dental work now, and don't have insurance.
+14 # reiverpacific 2012-04-14 12:51
Hell, I experienced this many years ago when I first came here; I developed a painful and debilitating hernia (didn't yet have any insurance) and after three estimates from different hospitals and surgeons, figured that flying back to Scotland, having it operated on, two weeks in and out-patient aftercare and another two weeks convalescence, was less than HALF the cost of the best of the U.S. estimates and the level care was a damn sight better also.
It also helped me to decide that I was never going to become a US citizen just because of the downright evil, profit-driven non-system which flourishes (for it's own benefit) to this day, intertwined with the embedded "winner takes all" socio-political system that nurtures and feeds it. -And why I'm not going to spend my increasingly elder years here.
+7 # wsh 2012-04-14 12:59
The article neglected to mention another reason for foreign-shores treatment: There are many drugs approved abroad that are not approved here...yet. The FDA can be quite slow when it comes to the approval process.

One example: Cel-Sci is a small company that is conducting phase III clinical trials both here and abroad on a cancer treatment. They will gladly accept approval abroad while waiting for the FDA to catch up. And if it's approved, you'll find many people willing to travel to Europe or the Far East for this breakthrough treatment.
+5 # Activista 2012-04-14 15:35
It seems that research is much more agile abroad where maximizing profit is not major motivation.
Heart bypass surgery - $50, 000 / surgery is more like industry than treatment. Doctor is making over $500, 000 per year. We will not kill our golden goose by some more effective and efficient alternative.
+2 # Progressive Patriot 2012-04-16 02:10
And most people don't change the habits that caused the need for bypass, and end up needing another one in about 5 years.

You can avoid it completely with a strict, oil-free diet change that reverses the arterial blockage and improves vessel elasticity. Three months on the diet, and I feel better than I have in some time ... and it costs a lot less than the bypass.
+3 # Rick Levy 2012-04-14 17:00
The Philippines is another prospective venue for medical tourism. I've lived here for almost seven years and have utilized the the local doctors and medical facilities numerous times. I have truly gotten bang for my buck both in terms of quality and cheaper costs.
+6 # Texas Aggie 2012-04-14 21:04
I can personally testify that at least one hospital in Mexico is as good as any in the US and better than most, plus it is a LOT cheaper. I could pay major surgery out of pocket. All the doctors involved including the pathologists were at least partly trained in the US.

A standard doctor's visit is approximately $40 at a doctor who trained in the US. More than 12 years ago just to walk in the door at a doctor's office in TX was $100 with everything else on top of that.

As Mr. Locke says, "How pathetic is it that we have to go to other countries for medical care that is out of our reach in the US?" And we keep hearing how the US has the best medical care in the world. How would we know? We can't get any of it.
+3 # Activista 2012-04-14 21:48
Many physicians from the U.S. received their training in Mexico, Guadalajara (kids of the rich)...
+1 # Progressive Patriot 2012-04-16 02:12
we have the "best" medical care if you make $1 Million or more a year, and can pay for it.
+3 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-04-15 08:53
I live in Costa Rica since 2001.
I know first hand both the "American-style " for profit "clinicas" (hospitals) such as la Cima (where I had a MRI) or la Biblica (where I did a heart check up) on the one hand and the public hospitals on the other.
I also know US and French (WHO #1) hospitals first hand.

First let me state that for the "international hospitals" the quality of service, both medical and catering-accomm odation are level with first world countries. Doctors are competent and procedures are performed quickly. I met a number of US residents who came mostly for elective surgery and had three weeks recovery-vacati ons on the beach - all in all about a third the price the surgery alone would cost them in the US.

One word of caution still, although it does not apply to US visitors: if you show up at la Cima with an emergency they will hammer you with US prices.

Now the most interesting comparison is with the public hospitals in Costa Rica. I went there on emergency for a heart scare (just a scare, thanks) and the level of medicine is as good as in the private sector. The buildings are old and not as clean, there are no private rooms and the food is below average, but they have modern equipment and the doctors are excellent.

Total cost of the mandatory health insurance for my family of 4?
$80 a month.
I am not saying there are no problem, but if any one had doubts that medicine in the US is just for profit...
0 # Activista 2012-04-15 12:09
We should establish NON-PROFIT co-op - network. Granny can facilitate stay in Costa Rica - others in Mexico, Europe.
Great People to People - Medical Tourism Plus.

It should be truly synergetic, information driven business -
0 # Progressive Patriot 2012-04-16 01:08
There are natural remedies that are far cheaper than the typical alopathic ones. I spent a day in the hospital getting some heart problems checked out, and $16,000 later was told I needed bypass surgery. I am now on a very strict vegan diet, and feel better than I have in a long time ... and I'm avoiding bypass surgery altogether. The alternative wasn't given to me by the cardiologist, or the surgeon. I went back to my naturopath after they got done with me. He told me about the diet devised by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. There are a couple of good videos in which he explains the science behind his oil-free diet. No meat, no eggs, no dairy, no oils. I can eat all the fresh fruits and vegetables I want. Rice and beans are a main staple. Most people don't change the bad habits after bypass surgery, and I've changed how I eat and avoided it completely.
0 # Progressive Patriot 2012-04-16 01:09
My breakfast in the hospital, after finding two partially clogged arteries in the angiogram, consisted of eggs, cheese, Cheerios, skim milk, a roll (probably with egg and oil in it), margarine, and fruit, was almost all stuff that is NOT on the diet.

I'm not sure what the future is going to be for a murmur, which I didn't have a year ago, but my doctor found in late November. The cardiologist wasn't very concerned about it at the time. For now, I've avoided having my chest ripped open and being unable to do _anything_ for six month, while it heals. By not having surgery, I'm saving a lot of money, and I have to eat anyway.

The alopaths don't know everything, and they don't always have the best solution.

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