Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Taking Charge of Your Health

Did you know the number of people that die in the U.S. every week from medical errors is greater than the total number of people killed in 9/11?

And did you know that the U.S. ranks last among 19 industrialized nations in a measure of preventable deaths (deaths before the age of 75 that were potentially preventable with timely and effective healthcare)?

I recently stumbled across this information in a fascinating presentation given by Elizabeth L. Brewley, entitled Consumer Driven Healthcare: Consumers Need to Become CEOs of their Own Health and Health Care (you can download her presentation from this website).

In her presentation, Ms. Brewley advocates individuals take a more active approach to their medical care—shop around, ask your doctor more questions (Why are you prescribing me this drug? What are the side effects?), and practice healthy habits to prevent illness and minimize trips to the hospital.

According to President Obama, every 30 seconds an American files for bankruptcy because of their medical bills. Surely some of this debt could be avoided by following Ms. Brewley’s advice and taking charge of your healthcare to make sure you’re getting the right treatment, quality, and advice for your money.

Sometimes insurance companies have limits on which doctors they will pay for you to see or which treatments they will cover. And while it may be tempting to stick to the paradigm prescribed by your insurance company, sometimes after you’ve weighed the pros and cons it may be worth it to pay out of pocket for a certain doctor or treatment that best suits your needs and lifestyle. (I really like Health Savings Account insurance plans, as they allow for a greater deal of personal choice in healthcare).

At MedTrava, all of the patients that come to us have already done a great deal of research before coming to the conclusion that going overseas offers the best value for their money. Medical travel is not the right option for everybody, but all Americans could learn a thing or two from the people that choose to travel abroad for healthcare—namely to interview several doctors before finalizing your treatment plan.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Prevention We Can Believe In

Some may gasp at the thought of Obama’s proposed $634 billion plan to reform the nation’s healthcare industry. But even if you disagree with his politics, there is one resounding theme that hopefully everyone can agree on: the importance of prevention in keeping healthcare costs down.

In other words, if you invest in your health now you can reap the rewards later.

We’ve heard it all before--eating right, exercise, and going in for regular checkups all combine to make a person healthier and their overall average health costs more manageable.

But rarely is that sentiment translated into public policy. Modern medicine, while it advocates prevention, generally focuses on curing diseases rather than understanding why the disease occurred in the first place.

And that, in large part, may be because modern medicine is forced to be reactionary-rather than proactive-because many patients put off seeing a doctor until their health issues have become unbearable. This procrastination is, of course, understandable, when you consider diagnostic tests can run into the hundreds or thousands of dollars.

I feel fortunate to spend enough time in India to get most of my health treatments done in this country. My mother, in fact, recently went in for a wellness exam that included a full set of diagnostic tests that would have cost thousands of dollars in the U.S, but she only paid a few hundred in India. Minor health problems she wasn’t even aware of revealed themselves in the tests, and now she can take action to prevent the issues from morphing into a full-blown health crisis.

And it’s for reasons like this that I founded MedTrava. If the adage knowledge is power is true, my mother has now regained control over her own health. Similarly, just making people aware of the quality of healthcare abroad allows them the power to choose where and how they want to be treated if they have a medical problem that needs attention.

Live well! Stay healthy!