August 26, 2013

Medical Tourism

Articles by Dr. Erdman are for informational purposes, and are not to be taken as specific medical advice.

The costs of medical care in the United States are spiraling upward at unsustainable rates. The monstrosity of regulations forced upon us in the legislation labeled Obamacare is making things much worse. There is no chance it will do an ounce of good.

Why are prices of medical services here in the US so high? Well, some say, we have the best care on earth, right? Our doctors are better trained, we have better facilities and therefore we have better outcomes, right? Actually, not right! We do not have better care for the money we spend. The US spends more on health care than the next 10 biggest spenders combined! AND, we rank last in terms of quality of care among those leading industrialized countries.

Simply put, because the pharmaceutical industry and government have their tentacles tightly wrapped around the medical industry, we are being ripped off. When hospitals are charging astronomical money for simple blood tests, x-rays and over-the-counter pills; you lose. Don’t give me the line that this is a free market economy, because it simply is not. When a hospital charges $1.50 for an aspirin, or $18 for a simple diabetic strip test that can be purchased for pennies, or $250 for a chest x-ray that medicare pays $20 for; you are being hosed!

Here is a prime example. My wife and I just had some wellness blood work completed. My high deductible insurance demands I see a particular lab to be able to get any advantage from my policy. She had 16 different blood tests, I had 12. The lab sent us the bills prior to submitting them to the insurance company. Now, I fully expected to pay the entire lab myself, since I have the high deductible. What I didn’t expect, was an $1800 bill for hers and a $1600 bill for my tests! As I said, that was prior to submitting to the insurance company. After their contractual fees were applied, I paid $130 for mine and $200 for hers. That’s just 10 to 15% of the billed charges. Amazing. If you were paying with cash, the larger bill is yours.

Another real life example is a patient I know who needed a heart valve replacement. At the Geisinger hospitals, they were told the cost is normally about $250,000 for the procedure. Since they had no insurance, it would be just $125,000. That’s a nice discount for cash, good for them. The only problem is that this person actually found a heart hospital, here in the United States, which did the exact same procedure for around $20,000. The patient was more than happy to pay that amount of money. This is called medical tourism.

Medical Tourism is becoming very popular among those who pay their own bills. People are finding procedures done overseas, at highly acclaimed hospitals, for pennies on the dollar of costs here in the USA. The major country for tourism is India, with Costa Rica also ranking high on the list. These countries health systems are actually ranked higher than the US, in many categories. From a strictly cost saving perspective, those paying cash at least have a choice.

There are obviously some drawbacks to medical tourism, such as possible exposure to superbugs, language barriers and others. You must definitely educate yourself and do your research on the benefits and risks. There are so many unnecessary procedures and tests done simply to appease some mandate from government, or to try to avoid a possible lawsuit.

So, what is the solution? You must take control of your own health. You must care for your own health, instead of leaving the care to your doctor. You must lose weight. You must eat better, you must exercise and you must use preventive care. Staying healthy is the best way to avoid health care costs! Chiropractic care is one important part of staying healthy. If you can’t move very well, how are you going to exercise? If you can’t exercise, how are you going to lose weight? If you can’t lose weight, your body is constantly inflamed, and always more susceptible to disease and injury.

There are many exogenous perils over which we have no control. The air we breathe, the pesticides the farmer next door sprays on you, and your parents are just a few. Take control of what you can, take control of yourself. Eat good food, drink good water and get educated on how to help yourself heal from the inside out.