Monday, December 21, 2009

Medical Tourism

For all those horror stories of Canadians fleeing to the US for medical care, Joel serves up the horrific/happy tale of from John Freeman from Reno:
[Freeman]needed a coronary bypass. He had dropped his catastrophic insurance coverage because the $320 monthly premium was eroding his retirement savings and the $5,000 deductible left him with big bills.

Facing a $100,000-plus operation, he thought he had two choices: "submit or die."

A friend pointed him to a third: World Med Assist of Concord, which lined him up with a heart surgeon in Turkey. The all-inclusive cost: $18,000. He had the surgery last spring and "unreservedly" recommends the care.

U.S. doctors refused to give him a price. "They would almost be proud of it," Freeman said. "They would say, 'That's not my department, I do operations. I don't have any idea how much anything costs.' Even the nurse would get mad at me and say, 'You want me to connect you with the billing department?' "

But for Freeman, cost mattered. "For people who can't pay, somehow the government won't let them die. But if you're like me in that awkward middle, where you have a little money saved, they'll take it all."

There's more where that came from, including this schedule of estimated comparative costs:

Heart bypass: $8,500 in India; in the U.S., $144,000

Liver transplant: $75,000 in Latin America; in the U.S., up to $315,000

Dental implant: $1,000 in Costa Rica; in the U.S., $2,000-$10,000

Face-lift: $4,000 in Singapore; in the U.S., $15,000

Knee replacement: $10,650 in Mexico; in the U.S., $50,000

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