Why Is U.S. Health Care So Much More Expensive?
After years of research and many conversations with health policy experts, I see three key culprits of expensive health care in the U.S.
In no particular order, they are the third-party payer system (i.e., employer-provided health care), malpractice suits, and administrative support costs/paperwork.
The unintended consequence of institutionalized employer-provided health care — a third-party payer for over 80% of the population — is to remove the pricing element from patients’ decision making.
Take Lasik eye surgery as a counter-example. Lasik is an elective procedure and, therefore, is NOT covered by insurance. The result is in just one decade, the average price has decreased from approximately $2,500 per eye to $400–1,500 per eye, depending on your location and the technology used.
|“Medical tourism is not a new phenomenon. Canadian and British patients have been traveling for decades in order to escape their universal health care systems.”|
All while the average employer-sponsored health insurance premium for a family rose 29% over the last four years, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Education Trust study.
But before deciding if medical tourism as a valid option for you or your family…
Is Medical Tourism Safe?
Medical tourism is not a new phenomenon. Canadian and British patients have been traveling for decades in order to escape their universal health care systems, in which extensive surgical wait times are the norm.
Important safety facts about medical tourism:
- Many international hospital staff and doctors are educated and board certified in U.S.
- MedRetreat uses only hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). This is the same organization that accredits top U.S. hospitals.So a JCAHO hospital is required to follow the same standards, procedures, and protocols as U.S. hospitals
- Hospitals employ the same advanced prosthetics, equipment, and medical devices as U.S. hospitals
- Hospitals cross-train with John Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical, and others.
So if your insurance deductible is too high or you are denied access to the surgical procedure that you need, it may be time to consider packing your bags and heading off to a foreign hospital.
But before you do so, I suggest you follow this five-step checklist. It will save you time, money, and hassle.
The 5-Step Medical Tourism Checklist
Step 1: The $6K rule. Determine the approximate cost of your procedure to ensure that it will cost more than $6,000. If your procedure will cost you $6,000 or less out of pocket, you will not financially benefit once you factor in travel-related expenses.
Step 2: Obtain a complete diagnosis, along with your doctor’s report and images. Include any X-ray, MRI, CAT, and/or PET work. You will use these to obtain a detailed price quote and treatment plan from your selected foreign hospital.
Step 3: Determine if you want to go directly to the hospital or work with a medical tourism facilitation agency. Directly means you will research, plan, and make all arrangements on your own. A medical tourism facilitator will guide you through all the planning and arrangements.
Step 4: Inform your doctor of your decision to travel abroad for your procedure. Verify if he or she would be willing to see you for follow-up care upon your return. Who knows, they may even try to compete with the foreign hospital on price.
Step 5: Obtain a firm quote and treatment plan from the foreign hospital before booking your travel arrangements.
If medical tourism sounds like a good option for you, send me an email at janglin@medretreat. com and I will send you a copy of MedRetreat’s comprehensive facilitation process to best guarantee a safe and pleasurable medical retreat.
Jud Anglin is founder of MedRetreat.com and a board member of the Spy Briefing Club.