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.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lack of sunshine may be bad for heart (and soul)

No longer does the lack of sunshine in winter months just give you SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), but it may also give you heart disease.

As if winter weren’t bad enough already.

A recent CNN article highlighted the importance of vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) in your diet. Long added to milk because the vitamin increases the absorption of calcium, your body can also create its own vitamin D simply by being in the sun for 10 to 15 minutes a day (without sunscreen).

Researchers studied groups of people without history of heart disease and found that those with diminished levels of vitamin D in their system were 77 percent more likely to die than those with adequate levels, 45 percent more likely to develop cardiac disease, and twice as likely to experience heart failure during the year-long study.

So next time you see a ray of sunshine in the dreary winter sky, bundle up and take a walk—it’ll strengthen your heart in more ways than one.

Friday, September 18, 2009

No insurance = death?

Have you heard? Being uninsured could kill you.

A recent study shows that people who have no health insurance are 40 percent more likely to die than those who are insured—that translates to 45,000 Americans dying each year because they don’t have health insurance.

To arrive at this number, researchers from Harvard Medical School and the Cambridge Health Alliance examined a group of 9,000 people for six years and kept track of their overall health. “The uninsured have a higher risk of death when compared to the privately insured, even after taking into account socioeconomics, health behaviors and baseline health,” lead author Dr. Andrew Wilper said in a statement.

This study comes right after a report by the U.S. Treasury that followed 17,000 Americans for a decade and found that half of working-age adults can expect to lose their insurance at some point in the next 10 years.

With all this grim news, I’m happy medical tourism companies like MedTrava can offer Americans affordable health care abroad. There’s no reason why anybody should put off needed surgeries or even a comprehensive diagnostic exam when there are alternatives almost anyone can afford.

Friday, August 14, 2009

MedTrava helps Patient get Spinal Fusion

When Dallas resident Jeremy P. needed spinal fusion surgery, his first instinct was to go to a local hospital and get the surgery. But after meeting with some surgeons, he was unpleasantly surprised.

“The doctors seemed like they didn’t really care about their patients, they seemed cocky,” his wife, Rachael, says. That attitude, combined with a six-digit price tag, prompted them to look elsewhere.

They quickly realized India offered the best value, combining some of the world’s best spinal surgeons with some of the lowest prices for spinal fusion.

While the couple initially tried planning their entire medical journey alone, they soon reached out to MedTrava for help when they realized the number of details that goes into planning a medical trip overseas. MedTrava was able to provide expert assistance with everything from corresponding with the hospital to recommending hotels and flight plans.

Jeremy was able to get his surgery done at Apollo Hospital in Bangalore for a fraction of the price the U.S. hospitals wanted to charge him.

Plus, says his wife, “Jeremy’s doctor was awesome, he was very down to earth. Jeremy’s back looks good, and the doctor personally checked up on him every day he was in the hospital.”

Despite having never traveled outside of the U.S. before, the couple had no problems with language barriers on their journey. They encountered a few cultural obstacles, such as getting used to drinks served without ice, but they managed to combat some of their culture shock by indulging in Pizza Hut deliveries in the hospital.

Asked the million-dollar question of “Would you do it again,” Rachael responds enthusiastically. “Definitely. If either one us ever had to have a surgery that costs more than $20,000 in the U.S., we would go back to India in a heartbeat.”

Friday, July 24, 2009

What to Expect from your Weight Loss Surgery

In the last blog we talked about obesity and the problems some people face in overcoming the challenges of weight-loss. To continue on this topic, below is a bit of information on different weight-loss surgeries and what you can expect from your gastric bypass surgery or lap-band surgery overseas.

Weight loss surgeries for the most part are divided into three broad categories:

Restrictive procedures, such as lap-band surgery, which reduce the amount the stomach can hold
Malabsorptive procedures, which shorten the digestive tract
• A combination of restrictive and malabsorptive procedures. Gastric bypass surgery uses this method.

Gastric bypass surgery is the most common weight-loss surgery performed, followed by gastric banding surgery. Here are some tips on what to expect from each surgery:

Before surgery
Patients will need to begin consuming a special diet several weeks prior to surgery. The diet consists of high protein, low carbohydrate and fat foods that help prepare the body for surgery. Your doctor will provide details about which foods to consume or avoid.

Immediately after Surgery
After the surgery, patients normally spend two to three days recuperating in the hospital. Patients are only discharged when there is no more discomfort and pain, and when you are already able to keep down liquids or pureed food.

Changing Your Diet
Recovering patients will be on a liquid diet for a number of weeks after surgery. As you progress to a solid-foot diet, you will need to make good food choices and learn to avoid problem foods, such as high-fiber, high-fat, and dry foods, since these are more difficult for the small stomach pouch to digest. Good food choices include fruits and vegetables, lean protein, some bread and cereal, and some dairy products.

Gastric Bypass Patients: You will feel full very quickly as you switch to a solid-food diet since the new stomach pouch will initially hold only about a teaspoon of food. Although the pouch will eventually expand, it will only be able to contain around 1 cup of thoroughly chewed food as compared to a normal stomach’s capacity of up to 1 quart. Because of this, you will only be able to eat small meals throughout the day.
You will be required to take supplements to make up for the nutrients lost, since food will now move more quickly through the digestive system.

Lap-band patients will have to modify their diets to not drink liquids during or immediately after meals as they will flush food through the reduced stomach pouch, which eliminates the prolonged feeling of satiety needed to help you eat less. It is recommended to eat only three small meals a day and make sure that these meals contain adequate nutrients. Unlike gastric bypass surgery, gastric banding does not interfere with food absorption, so vitamin deficiencies are rare after gastric banding.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More Americans Overweight than Ever Before

Did you know:

-2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese?

-In 30 states, 30% of children are obese or overweight?

-The rates of obesity have risen in 23 states over the past year?

Source: “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America 2009,” Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

It’s clear that excessive weight gain is a growing problem in the U.S. In addition to the statistics above, the study “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America 2009” found that NO states had a decrease in obesity rates from last year. Many analysts predict that obesity rates will only continue to rise with the recession; as food prices continue to climb, some will eschew paying a premium for fresh fruits and veggies and opt for the lower-priced (but nutritionally deficient) pre-packaged meals.

Saving money on groceries this way may be the easy choice, but is perhaps not the wisest choice. The health risks associated with being overweight are numerous, increasing the risk of ailments ranging from heart problems to cancer to arthritis. For teens, being overweight has been linked to increased rates of suicide.

So we know there’s a problem, but what is there to do about it? The obvious answer is to suck up the extra cost and prepare healthy meals with fruits and veggies. But for some, this solution may just be unfeasible, and no amount of dieting has ever worked. At this point, it may be time to run to weight loss surgery such as gastric bypass surgery or lap band surgery.

Weight loss surgery is not for everyone and should generally only be a last-resort solution. But if you’re one of those people unable to lose weight with conventional methods, this may be the best option to help you preserve your future health.

Stay tuned for our next post that goes into detail of what to expect from weight loss surgery.

Till then, stay healthy!