Monday, July 12, 2010

Read as MedTrava patient Derek tells in his own words about the fantastic experience he had on his recent trip to Malaysia for surgery. Not only did he fix a health issue he's had since birth, but he was able to save $25,000 and get a vacation with his surgery.

Patient travels to Malaysia for chest surgery
Gets Nuss Procedure for Pectus Excavatum abroad

My name is Derek and I was born with a medical condition called pectus excavatum. This is a malformation of the chest wall in which the sternum is significantly caved in. Several years ago, after extensive research, I discovered a minimally invasive procedure to correct the deformity. It involved the implantation of a steel bar beneath the sternum and rib cage, pushing the chest wall into a proper shape. The only problem was that the procedure cost upwards of $35,000 in the U.S. and is not covered by medical insurance. For that cost the surgery was not an option.

About a year and a half ago I started researching overseas medicine and discovered that surgeries were often significantly less expensive. Not only this, but my research led me to believe that the quality of care was just as good if not better than that in the U.S. So I made arrangements with a medical tourism company (not MedTrava) to send me overseas at a price I could afford. I was very hopeful for what was to come.

Plans did not go as smoothly as I had originally hoped. As it turned out, the scheduling of my trip, while paid for in full, had been grossly mismanaged by the medical tourism company I had been using. It was at this time that I contacted the Medtrava company for advice. Not only did they help me out of my current dilemna, but the reinstated my confidence in medical tourism. The difference between Medtrava's handling of my case and that of the other company was night and day. Their associates are true professionals.

With the help of my new medical tourism representatives I was set up with a wonderful team of medical professionals at the Prince Court Medical Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I have received medical treatment at American hospitals in the past, but must say that I felt just as, if not more, comfortable at the hospital in Malaysia. I was treated with the utmost respect and care. The facilities there are state of the art. I did not even feel as if I were staying in a hospital--it was more like a hotel, and the surgery was more like vacation!

The procedure went well; my chest wall now looks normal, and my recovery has been quick. My hospital stay was only one week, and that was mainly for precautionary purposes. I was back on my feet within days, and the pain has been minimal. If I had to do it again the only change I would make is to not take the trip alone. While my MedTrava case manager was available to help me over the phone 24/7 (a benefit I took advantage of several times!), it always makes surgery a little more comforting when you’ve got a friend or family member to be there for you--whether your surgery is 1 mile or 1,000 miles from your house. Since I did not have a friend with me, I made the best of an already pleasant situation and relied more on the nurses and MedTrava.

So besides receiving a surgery that I never could have afforded in the U.S., I got to vacation in another country. Malaysia is a wonderful place to visit. Medtrava made my trip safe, easy, and affordable....a fraction of what I would have paid in the U.S. with the same quality care.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Medical Tourism and Health Care Reform

Whether liberal or conservative, most of us can agree that the U.S. health care system needs work. With health care costs spiraling out of control, affordable health care is fast becoming out of reach for uninsured or underinsured Americans.

Many people automatically assume that this broken health care system is what drives the medical tourism industry, fueling the need for overseas travel for health care. They think owners and employees in the medical travel profession automatically oppose any reform that could potentially harm business.

But in reality, many people in this industry were drawn to the profession in the first place simply to help make premium health care more accessible to the average person. I, for one, started MedTrava after helping my mother battle breast cancer as an uninsured patient in the U.S. Once I realized what a daunting task it was to face a major health crisis with limited options, I made it my mission to give people like my mother an alternative option with the high-quality, low-cost care available overseas.

Medical tourism will continue to grow as the global supply chain for this industry continues to expand. Everyday newer destinations are emerging and more and more countries are adopting medical tourism as a strategic growth initiative. In this Age of Information, patients will continue to seek out different options to determine what best suits their needs.

Medical tourism is not an American phenomenon. Patients from places as diverse as Nigeria to England have contacted MedTrava for help arranging an overseas surgery. Their reasons vary—some are avoiding long waiting times in their native countries, others are seeking cutting-edge treatments not yet available at home, and still others choose to go abroad to save thousands of dollars on their medical bills.
Here is a snapshot of a few medical travel patients and their reasons for traveling:

-An 87-year-old woman with dental insurance in the U.S. opted to get her implants in Costa Rica, where she was still able to save about $30,000.

-A 35-year-old man whose insurance would only cover spinal fusion surgery (a painful surgery with not only a long recovery time but also one that needs to be repeated every few years) opted to travel to India and pay out of pocket for disc replacement surgery. He saved precious recovery time, eliminated the need for future surgeries - all for less than what he would have owed on his co-pay on the spinal fusion surgeries.

-A 55-year-old man needed knee replacement surgery. His company was self-insured (they paid for employees' medical costs directly) and offered him a share of the savings if he flew to India for his surgery.

The world continues to get more globalized in all economic areas, and health care is no exception. Different countries are establishing themselves as the leaders in various health care specialties, and medical tourism will be a necessary tool to ensure that the quality of medicine everywhere continues to advance. Whether you love or hate the Obama administration's health care proposal, MedTrava is committed to embracing all changes to the law to make sure that you continue to receive the best health care in the world.