Combine Surgery With Travel

Combine Surgery With Travel

In today’s world, time is money and we all seem to be limited or stretched for both.  Taking care of your health seems to be put on the back burner when we are in this position in life. Is that really the best thing to do considering we need our health to be good at things?  How about planning your vacation smartly?  You need to have a procedure done but have put it off because of time or money.  Why not consider these 3 options for ‘killing 2 birds with 1 stone’ and combine surgery with travel?

If you are like me and had major surgery(s), you would probably agree the first few days you will want nothing but sleep and rest.  Minor procedures such as plastic surgery or dental work may not be as limiting, however, something like an orthopedic surgery will not allow for you to be taking long walks on the beach.  In fact, that would not be a good idea to be walking on sand after such surgery due to the unevenness which could result in another injury.  You can still combine travel with surgery, or at the least, make the best use of your time.

Combine Leisure Travel with Medical Travel

Summer is upon us and one of the best things about it is that you get to vacation! Are you limited on how many vacation days you are allowed for the year?  Have you ever thought about combining your surgery or procedure with your trip?  You may not get to enjoy the entire trip but you could go a couple days early to get in some of the sites.

Combine Your ‘Snowbird’ Vacation with Medical Travel

Canadians flock south every year to escape the cold and long winters.  Many have condos or second homes they own with Arizona, Florida and Texas as their destination.  They will spend months basking in the sun wearing sandals and shorts while their friends and family back home are bundled up in winter gear.  

This is an ample time to have your surgery, treatment or diagnostic test, especially if the surgery is a major one.   Having extended access to the surgeon or doctor without adding another flight will help keep your risk down. This also gives the doctor a better eye on monitoring you.  Most doctors are going to give post op care that’s included in their pricing. This helps keep the continuity of care if you are able to do all of your recovery in one place.  

Combine Your Business Trip with Medical Travel

Many Canadians travel to the US for business frequently.   This may or may not even require any additional vacation time depending on what you need to have done.  Diagnostic tests can easily be done in a matter of hours.  And if your company is footing the travel part of the trip, definitely coordinate what you need to have done.  If it’s a minor surgery, you may be able to fly within a day or two.

Popular Spots

Top destinations Canadians travel to in the USA during the summer are: Washington DC, Boston, Orlando or other historic destinations.  Snowbirds prefer Arizona, Florida and Texas.  Business travel includes Chicago, New York or Boston.   It just so happens Health Vantis has facilities in or near all of the destinations. If you need a surgery, contact Health Vantis to help you coordinate one of these trips for you.   

 

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

Newer Orthopedic Surgical Techniques

Newer Orthopedic Surgical Techniques Are Bringing Greater Results To Patients

Orthopedic procedures are skyrocketing in Canada due to the aging Baby Boomer population. High on the list are hip and knee replacements. These are considered major surgeries and in years past, required overnight stays in the hospital with a long recovery period. Newer orthopedic surgical techniques and procedures are now available to make the surgery out-patient vs inpatient with a less invasive approach. This has the patient up and moving within hours of the surgery and a much quicker recovery. 

Posterior Approach 

In years past, these surgeries were done posteriorly, which entered through the back side of the knee or hip. This required a large incision, cutting through the muscle and other soft tissues. In the case of a hip, a wide piece of fibrous soft tissue at the top of the outer thigh was cut and the large gluteus maximus muscle that attaches to it. The surgeon would cut the external muscles that connect the top of the femur to the pelvis. These are the muscles that provide hip stability preventing dislocation out of the back of the hip socket. The muscles are repaired and reattached at the end of the surgery. This approach provides a good view of what they are doing to the surgeon, thus the preferred approach for most. 

Having a posterior approach would require at least 2-3 days stay in a hospital and then 2-3 weeks of physical therapy in a rehab hospital. There is a much longer process for healing and mobility with this approach. 

Anterior Approach 

The Anterior approaches is preformed through the front of the hip or knee.  This technique requires a very skilled doctor. Not all physicians are trained to do this approach, furthermore, there are not many surgeons in Canada offering it at this time. While both techniques provide you with the same overall outcome, there are greater benefits to doing the replacement(s) anteriorly. Some of those are: 

.–  Lower rates of infection

–Sparing the muscles and tendons, allowing the patient to move the joint duringrecovery

–  Less pain

–  Faster recover time

–  Improved mobility

–  Reduced scarring

–  Improved stability

–  Reduced risk for dislocation after surgery

–  No overnight hospital stay

 Patients who have undergone direct anterior procedures have reported post operative pain and discomfort markedly less than traditional approaches. Recovery is expedited and they are able to resume normal actives sooner.

Microdiscectomy For The Spine 

Microdiscectomy for the spine is the most common minimally invasive spine surgery procedures being done. Like traditional posterior hip and knee approach, traditional discectomies are done with a 6-8” incision that requires cutting through the back muscles. This technique has significant muscle damage with a slow, painful recovery. 

Microdiscectomy is preformed with advanced technology that uses an endoscope

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 Microdiscectomy is preformed with advanced technology that uses an endoscope. This only requires a tiny incision the size of a pin and is able to burrow through the muscles as opposed to cutting through them. The endoscope is removed and the heart muscle closes naturally. Per Chiropractor and rehab therapist Dr. Amy Cannutta, this allows for less down time, greater results, less pain and practically no infection rate. Her experience has also seen people’s recovery period much easier and quicker than traditional discectomy. 

Which Surgical Technique Is Right For You? 

Just like any surgery, only your doctor will know what is the right approach for your situation. Not everyone is a candidate for Microdiscectomy or an Anterior Approach for hip or knee replacement. If you are ever in doubt or would like to explore an alternate approach, solicit a second opinion. Health Vantis can help you with this. Contact us today at info@healthvantis.com or 877-344-3544 as we have facilities that offer these techniques and are able to provide you with a second opinion. 

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com 

5 BS facts about medical tourism that people think are true

Medical travel can be rewarding and complicated at the same time. On one hand, you can get treated and feel better faster, on the other, you have to manage all the logistics and risks. Below are the untrue medical tourism facts and why they are such. You can make an informed decision about your health.

I have to fly across the globe to get a surgery

This one is really your choice. You can fly across the globe – let’s say from Canada to India if that is what you find to be the best possible care at the best possible price for you. However, we advise doing a thorough research of the procedure.  While it is true that some countries far away excel at a certain surgery, you will most likely find a similar, if not lower price within 4h flight from you. In fact, many Canadians can drive to a facility to receive private health care. Hiring a medical facilitator will pay off if you chose an agency with transparent pricing policy to do the job for you.

My doctor will be mad at me for going someplace else

According to our experience, it is highly unlikely. Most, if not all, Canadian doctors are aware of the waitlist situation and are sympathetic. In fact, Canadian physicians are encouraged to take steps to minimize the risks that medical tourism may present. The guidelines to follow from Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) are as follows:

  • Physicians should respect patients’ autonomy in seeking out-of-country procedures and other decisions regarding their healthcare.
  • Where appropriate, physicians should try to address to the best of their ability and knowledge questions from patients who are considering care abroad. They can also help patients minimize health risks associated with travel to certain countries.
  • Doctors should keep the lines of communication with patients open. For example, you could ask them to provide information about the medical treatment abroad, including their foreign medical record, and ensure the transfer of records is complete.
  • Be mindful of the patient’s need for follow-up care upon returning to Canada, including emergent care. Physicians should consider the urgency of the treatment required and their ability to provide information and follow-up care to the best of their ability and within the limits of their clinical knowledge.

 

I will not get the same quality of care as I can at home

This could not be further from the truth. Many surgeons and doctors working abroad were trained in the U.S., and have returned to their home countries to provide care to both local populations and medical tourists. However, depending on where you are going, you may have to do more research.

The USA and Canada follow very similar medical school and training requirements.  They are in fact the only two countries where an MD from USA and Canada can establish practices in either country without undergoing a re-certification. It is a unique arrangement and speaks highly of both countries’ medical education.

If you venture beyond those two countries, you will have to do a bit more research. Ensure that you check the doctor’s education and certifications as well as hospital accreditations. We wrote a blog on how to select your medical doctor and facility and encourage you to read it to get a better understanding of what is involved.

 

I have no legal recourse if something goes wrong

Any civilized country will have a law when it comes to pursuing legal action against a medical facility or doctor if something goes wrong. You are probably only familiar with the law in your country. The medical malpractice law in a country states who makes the decision, how you will be compensated and who will be paying the legal costs. A couple of things to mention:

  • Litigation costs in the US are twice those in other countries. Half of US payments go to legal costs rather than compensating patients
  • Other than the US, few other countries allow cases to be decided by jurors. Most use judges or administrative procedures to determine liability.
  • Canada and the United Kingdom impose caps on pain and suffering awards.
  • Most European countries prohibit contingency fees. The United States uses contingency fees.
  • Canada, Europe and Australia all have loser-pays provisions in their medical malpractice systems. The US does not.
  • Sweden’s average award for 2004: $22,000. US median award for 2005: $400,000 with 21% of awards being more than $1 million.
  • Internists in Canada pay between $1800 and $3200 per year for malpractice insurance. Internists in Cook County and Madison County, Illinois pay more than $41,000 per year.

The discussion of various countries malpractice laws is beyond the scope of this short blog. However, we can say that there are resources available to you if you have the time and desire to learn more.

My personal medical information is not safe

Medical facilities must follow a medical and personal information law in their country.  The nations of the Western world have similar perspectives toward privacy rights. In the US, that is HIPAA, and it is a very strict law when it comes to your records. European Union’s (EU’s) Directive on Data Protection and Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) regulate patient records and other sensitive information. If you are unsure about the privacy laws in the country of your intended travel, ask your medical facilitator.

If you are curious about traveling abroad for a procedure or surgery reach out to us. We offer a complimentary 1h consultation. Toll free 1877 344 3544 or info@healthvantis.com

What Should You Ask Your Medical Facilitator?

In last week’s blog we discussed the value a Medical Facilitator can bring to you. If you have decided to hire one, you probably have more questions to ask that pertain to you and your safety. Having trust in your Medical Facilitator is one of the most important things required. They are there to assist you in your journey and make sure it is a well thought out plan.  This is to assure the decision you made was the right one for you. Here are 5 questions we feel you should ask to extend more trust in your decision.

  1. Is the facility you will be sending me to an accredited hospital?

    In the U.S., Canada, Australia and Western Europe it is standard practice that hospitals are expected to acquire accreditation in order to operate.  That is not the case for many international facilities. Inspection on the quality of care, infection control, medical and nursing credentials including training, patient rights, medication management, environment of care, education and ethical standards are items measured.This is so the hospital follows minimum standards for your protection that will reduce chances of infection, staffing error or negligence. The most well known accreditation organizations are: Joint Commission International (JCI) *This is probably the one most recognized International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua) Healthcare Quality Association on Accreditation (HQAA) Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) The United Kingdom Accreditation Forum (UKAF) Australian Council for Healthcare Standards International (ACHSI) Trent Accreditation Scheme (U.K., Europe, Hong Kong, Philippines and Malta) If a hospital does not have the appropriate world wide recognized accreditation, you might want to keep shopping.

  2. Have you been to the facility you are sending me to?

    Deciding to travel for medical care is stressful in itself. You want assurance the facility is reputable, clean and safe. A good Medical Facilitator will have been to the facility themselves to do an onsite inspection. This due diligence is for your safety. Believe it or not but we have been to facilities that looked great on their websites.  After visiting them, we chose not to send our clients there for various reasons such as cleanliness, surrounding location and lost government funding due to poor quality.

  3. What Is Your Fee?

    When going to a facility within Canada or the U.S., you can be certain that the facilitator will not receive payment from the hospital or facility. That would be unethical and not in your best interest. You want to go somewhere that is going to benefit your needs, not the Medical Facilitators pocket. An industry standard is 10-15% of the cost of your procedure or surgery. Companies such as ours will cap the fee when the cost reaches a certain point.  Cancer treatment can be quite expensive. If the Medical Facilitators fee is low or free be wary.  It will be built in somewhere or they are being paid by the hospital to bring them patients.

  4. What happens if I have a complication?

    There are policies that can protect you from complications called ‘Complications Insurance’. This is different from a standard travel insurance policy. The standard travel policy will NOT cover you should you decide to travel for medical reasons. These policies will cover medical needs that arise while traveling not related to a pre-existing issue.

  5. Can I choose my doctor?

    Yes and No. If you have a preference or already have a doctor in mind, by all means, notify the Medical Facilitator of your wishes.  Most will be happy to accommodate. Many times the doctor will vary depending on which facility you choose, your needs and the doctor’s availability. All of our facilities review the client’s medical records and pair them with the doctor they feel would best suit their needs.

There are most likely more questions you will want to ask a Medical Facilitator because everyone has different needs and concerns. Health Vantis is always happy to answer any question you have. Contact us when you do have questions. That is what we are here for.

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

Traveling Out Of The Country For Surgery? 5 Things To Ask Your Surgeon

5 Things You Should Know or Ask Your Surgeon

Will you be traveling out of the country for surgery?  Have you ever asked a doctor a question and thought to yourself, he probably thinks I’m an idiot? Many people do but you’d be surprised to know that would not be the case. No question you ask a doctor is a ‘dumb’ one.  In fact, if you asked them that, they’d probably tell you many people ask the same kind of questions.

When you are scheduled for a surgery, there are certainly no questions that shouldn’t be answered to your comfort level. Some of those questions might actually be about the doctor. Most people are going to want to know who it is behind the mask. Here are some questions to consider or research prior to agreeing to travel out of the country for your surgery.

  1. Is the doctor up on his/her credentials?

    All doctors, in the US and Canada, are required to take continuing education courses to keep their license valid. Other countries may have different standards.  Be sure you know what those standards are and if they have the appropriate credentials.

  2. What is the surgeon’s training or specialty in?

    You do not want someone trained as a Pulmonologist or General Surgeon doing an Orthopedic surgery. This is more common than you would imagine, especially for plastic surgery or in other foreign countries. The outcome will be more favorable when you have your surgery done with a licensed and trained specialist that is within the specialty of the surgery you are having.

  3. How many surgeries has this doctor done similar to mine?

    That old saying ‘practice makes perfect’ or ‘proficiency in numbers’ could apply here. The more surgeries a doctor does, the better skilled they become just like an athlete who trains every day.

  4. Have there been any files or judgements against the surgeon?

    This is something to check in to for your safety. If there has been a judgement, don’t discount the surgeon right away. Ask them about the case.   Some judgements are common such as an Orthopedic surgeon because the outcomes are not always as the patient expected. Someone’s expectations and emotions can sometimes get in the way of reality and the first gut instinct is to blame the doctor. (The next point will give you more details to this) Doctors who have been found negligent are the ones to be concerned with.  In that case, you may want to be more diligent in your decision to have them operate on you.

  5. Ask your surgeon what the their success rate outcome is for the procedure you are having done.  Asking a doctor about their success rate for outcomes is a good indicator of the success you may experience. In higher risk surgeries such as abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, cancer surgery, carotid endarectomy or heart valve or bypass surgery it is also important to know that particular doctor’s complication rates. There are many experimental procedures they may not have enough data on to know or a particular surgery such as a spinal fusion that may only have a 70% success rate.  Knowing this information and understanding it up front will help you set your expectations accurately and also give you more validation on whether or not you want to put yourself through the surgery.

Conclusion

Not every patient is the same and there are many factors doctors have to weigh such as your age, other risk factors or unknown obstacles they may encounter once they get in to do the actual surgery to determine what is best for you. Don’t ever assume, always ask. Make sure your interpretation of what the doctor is telling you makes sense so you are both on the same page and there are no surprises or misunderstandings.

Being well informed about your surgeon will give you the confidence you need. Go to your appointment prepared with a list of questions and make sure that all of them are answered to your satisfaction. Health Vantis will already have asked these questions if you utilize us. It is our job to make sure we have paired you with not only the appropriate doctor but also the best.

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

5 Things A Medical Facilitator Can Do For You

What exactly does a Medical Facilitator Do?

Many people are unfamiliar with the term Medical Facilitator. We certainly were before starting our business. We had no idea a Medical Facilitator existed, exactly what they did, what their purpose was or just how valuable they could be. The more we learned about it, the more we realized just how many facets there were to what they do.  Traveling for medical treatment is very complicated. Medical Facilitators wear many hats.  In this blog, we’d like to explore some of the things they can do to save you time.

1.Research, Research, Research!  

Many people don’t realize just how much research Medical Facilitators do and how much time it requires. If you need a surgery and have decided not to wait for the system, you don’t just throw a dart and say this doctor looks good, lets go with him/her. You would probably start with exploring your options spending endless hours on your computer and making phone calls trying to find the appropriate place, doctor and facility. Medical facilitators do all of this for you. A reputable Medical Facilitator will have already established relationships with the hospital administration and will know of treatments unavailable in Canada or who to contact to explore those. They have visited the facility, done site inspections, verified facility/hospital and doctor credentials and explored the area to make sure it is a safe area to travel to. After a thorough patient intake interview they will have the specialized knowledge and expertise in knowing where to start.  They set off to do it for you.

2. Secure and safe way to transfer your medical records 

They already have systems in place to collect your medical records and get them to the appropriate facility(s) to get an accurate quote. This can be time consuming as not all doctor’s offices in Canada are easy to get records from and require multiple follow ups. Medical Facilitators ensure your records are collected in a safe and confidential manner through an established system that can go directly to the medical facility.

3. Easy Quote 

Many hospitals and facilities are not equipped to handle a medical traveler.  Trying to get a quote can be difficult. A Medical Facilitator will already have established contacts and know exactly who to call for these, negotiated rates and/or discounts not available to the public. They will be connected with financial institutes should you need financial assistance.

4. Coordinating communication between patient and surgeon 

You want to be comfortable with your doctor if you are having a surgery.  A Medical Facilitator can make the arrangements for you to communicate with the doctor or surgeon to ensure all of your concerns or questions are answered to accomplish that. They can connect your home town physician to the physician abroad in the event there are any questions.

5. Arranging travel logistics 

Medical Facilitators are a huge help with arranging travel details.  They can book your flights, help with passports, and organize accommodations and transportation. Medical Facilitators will be familiar with the area and hotels that can accommodate someone that may require an extended visit or additional handicapped assistance after a surgery and/or immediate physical therapy or home health care. They make sure extended care is established prior to your surgery.   This is to ensure the continuation of care is established. A Medical facilitator takes on the responsibility of making sure all of your questions are answered.

Traveling for medical care can be a very stressful or worrisome journey. Medical Facilitators ensure no small detail is left out or overlooked.  They provide you with the trust, care and support you will need. Making the decision to invest into your health is a big one. It takes a lot of time and research to make sure your final outcome becomes a good one. Hiring someone specialized with the knowledge and expertise in knowing how to do that will save you time and give you a better outcome. For more details on how Health Vantis can help you achieve that, please contact us!

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

5 Things That Will Improve By Considering Medical Travel

5 Things That Will Improve By Considering Medical Travel

We live in an instant gratification world. We have access to just about anything we want at the tip of our fingers. Waiting for certain medical care is not something we have much control over, but do we?  We may not have the ability to snap our fingers and have a surgery date appear on the surgeons schedule but we can utilize our resources to research other options such as medical travel.

The decision to travel for medical reasons is a big  one to make, and there are many reasons one might entertain the though but you have to weigh the pros and cons. In this blog we will explore the ‘pros’ by making the decision to.

  1. Excluded or specialty procedures currently unavailable in Canada

    Canada is a very progressive country with regards to medical treatments and care, however, there are many procedures and treatments unavailable. Cancer is a great example  of one of those because of the uniqueness it presents in every individual. Entertaining a second opinion can always be helpful to explore other options or even to confirm the treatment plan you were given concurs. You will have more certainty in your treatment plan and/or diagnosis. Oncologist.

  2. Addressing your disease or illness sooner thus preventing it from progressing further

    The longer you have an ailment that is being untreated, the higher chance you have to make things worse. For example, a knee replacement. We obviously all utilize our legs to walk and the knees bear all of our weight. They are the main hinge between the ground and the rest of your body that allow you to get around. Waiting too long for your surgery can be counterproductive. Your function going into surgery dictates how you will function afterward. The longer you wait, the more muscle tone you lose which will make your recovery much longer and harder. Something spotted early may only require a minor procedure. Delaying that could cause, in the case of a knee, destruction to the knee joint to where it is so severe that a total knee replacement is now needed.

  3. Pain level management can be kept to a minimum

    Pain is the main indicator that something is wrong. Living with severe pain may produce a chain reaction. You may not be able to develop the coping skills required.  This may cause you to become unproductive, unable to exercise or possibly put you into a depression. Although doctors are getting more cautious with giving opioids out for pain control, they still do. This is considered a risk. Being on them in the short term may be appropriate but being on them long-term will have more serious consequences such as addiction. Also, when you take an opioid it masks the pain. This could result in you to pushing yourself more than you should which can create or complicate your problem further.

  4. Being able to exercise or do the things you love to do again

    Most likely, if you need to have a surgery, you are going to have limitations. Those may prevent you from doing the things you love to do such as playing with your children or grandchildren, participating in a sport or hobbies. This can be especially difficult when it limits you from something you are passionate about such as cycling or running. Many people thrive on being active and when they can’t, the consequences can be many.

  5. Back to work sooner

    Your ailment might be severe enough that you have to go on long or short term disability because you can no longer preform your duties. This can put a financial strain on you. If you have to be off work for 4-6 months while waiting for your surgery or diagnostic test, how much income are you losing? If the income lost due to waiting is greater than the cost to have it done privately, then further consideration might be worthwhile.

Being the healthiest person you can be will only benefit you physically, mentally and emotionally. Weighing all of the pros and cons may give you the insight to make an  informed decision on what it is you need to maintain that healthy lifestyle.

If you would like to explore other options, contact us as that is what we do. We’ve already done the research for you to speed things along that much quicker.

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

How to Choose the Best Hospital For Your Surgery

How to Choose the Best Hospital For Your Surgery

If your doctor determined that a surgery is necessary for you to get better, you are probably wondering where to have it done. With many options in medical travel care around the globe, how do you choose? In this blog, we will talk about some points to consider when searching for the best hospital to have a procedure done.

Like most people, you are probably looking to for a facility that has the best outcomes for the type of surgery you are seeking, offers quality care before, during and after the procedure and has comfortable amenities for recovery. We offer you some insights into what to look for and how to obtain the information needed.

Accreditations and Awards

First and foremost, ensure that a hospital of your choice is a reputable one. There are a few companies that offer hospital accreditations. The most known one is Joint Commission International (JCI), which is considered a gold standard in global healthcare. Other organizations such as Accreditation Canada and Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) provide for a way to tell that the facility has met the accredited body health care standards. Many good hospitals are also winners of various awards in excellent care. All this information can be found on the hospital’s website. Ensure you know what the accreditation and award organizations check and rate.

Important hospital statistics

The next step would be to look at a hospital infection, re-admission and mortality rates and compare it to a state, province or country average. This should also be available on the hospitals’ website. Some hospitals make it a point to tell their patients what they are doing about lowering those rates, which is an indicator of being proactive and caring about the outcomes.  Also, check with the states’ or provinces’ department of health. Many of them now require monitoring for serious reportable events or incidents (SRE/SRI) – preventable, adverse events that are unambiguous, and largely, if not entirely preventable, such as operating on a wrong body part, performing a wrong surgery and so on.

When researching a hospital, look for a number of surgeries performed a year for your particular type of surgery. It takes practice to become an expert and there is proficiency in numbers.   Ask the hospital if they have a floor for recovery and an operating room just for your type of surgery.  Nurse to patient ratio is also used to assess the quality and ease of access to pre- and post-surgery care.

Brand names vs smaller facilities

Famous names and large hospitals are not always the best for your type of procedure.  Smaller regional hospitals can do a better job at a better price. Smaller cities can be easier to access with less traffic, more parking and larger hospital rooms.  Many smaller independent surgical facilities employ surgeons that also operate at large brand-name hospitals.

Finding out the pros and cons of the different facilities can be time-consuming and confusing.  Health Vantis can do all the legwork for you and present you with 2-3 options so that you can focus on getting better.  Contact us for your free 1-hour consultation to learn more.

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

Hidden Costs of Medical Tourism

Considering traveling abroad to get a medical treatment, diagnostics, and/or second opinion and wondering how much it costs? We addressed cost issues in several of our blogs in January.  Today we wanted to bring up our reader’s attention to hidden costs of medical tourism.

It could be broken down into two categories – financial and non-financial. Monetary hidden costs are a bit more manageable if one prepares and ask the right questions before going.

  • Unexpected medical complications.  All surgeries carry a risk of complications. Talk to your medical tourism professional about them. Arrange an interview with prospective doctors to better understand the rate of complications. We highly recommend looking into purchasing a medical complications insurance for traveling abroad to receive a medical treatment
  • Hidden hospital charges. Ask how much it costs if you need a longer hospital stay, if your package covers any medication you will need for successful recovery, and if the costs of pre-op exams are included.
  • Unsuspected accommodation and transportation charges. Your hotel may charge you for replacing soiled bed sheets. You will also need to be safely transported from the hospital to your recovery hotel. Ask your medical facilitator if the hotel is used to seeing recovering clients and if the hospital provides free transportation to the hotel.

Non-financial costs are harder to assess and are usually forgotten till it actually happens. We would like to emphasize the following considerations

  • The cost of not talking to your primary care provider in your home country can be very high and it is potentially harmful to your overall health. Your family physician has the most knowledge about your health and if you inform her of your intended travel you will place yourself in a much better position to mitigate the risks. She will be able to talk to you about different health scenarios about your particular condition. It will be easier to consult her when you are back. No one likes bad surprises and it’s not worth the risk. Sometimes it can be difficult to bring up this conversation but is well worth the efforts. All Canadian doctors are well aware that medical tourism exists.
  • Access to the doctor who performed your surgery or treatment can be limited. This one should be closely discussed and reviewed as you are going through your quotes and selection of medical specialists and facilities.
  • Arranging follow-up care can be challenging and costly. Find out the recovery time and what you need to do. Your medical tourism facilitator can provide you with a quote and connect you to a physiotherapist so that you can continue the recovery process when you are back home. If you have supplemental health insurance your physiotherapy may be covered, if not the cost of a therapist traveling to your home is about $90 per session.

All these considerations are a lot to think about and are easy to forget. Ensure you either have a good medical facilitator to keep track of these or print this list and keep it as you go through your research.

The Cost of Waiting for Medical Treatment

Many Canadians experience delays in getting to timely health care they need. Some of the delays have a real impact on one’s overall health, including mental health. We wanted to examine a little closer what those impacts may be and if access to a private treatment faster can alleviate some of the issues.

Perhaps the most frustrating part is that we have to live in the unknown for a while. The unknown means different things to different people and their medical cases. At times It is an unknown that we can handle, i.e. if someone is having a shoulder pain that doesn’t impede his or her daily activities to a severe degree and that person is waiting 3-4 months to get an ultrasound.

It’s frustrating nevertheless. Even though the healthcare is free, we are well aware that it is not so. According to the Fraser Institute, an average Canadian family of four will pay about $12,000 for public healthcare, while the average single individual will pay about $4,600. These amounts vary by income level. So the average family in the lowest 10 percent of income-earners will pay a little less than $500, while those in among the top 10 percent will pay almost $40,000.(1)

So what happens if it is a health concern that has not been properly diagnosed or treated? The reasons could be because the diagnostic services have a wait list of their own; long wait times to see a specialist; or a person has been to a couple of specialists with no clear diagnosis. What if a person was diagnosed but the wait list for treatment is over 1 year? What are the consequences of such situations? There are many.

First is the loss of income due to excessive absences or disability. Canadian Labour Code protects job security for 17 weeks but there is no provision for paid leave of absence. If you are unable to walk or sit at your job due to a bad hip or knee, you may not be able to work and therefore lose significant income.

The second one is that your overall health may be in jeopardy. If you were an active person and enjoyed physical exercise you will quickly find yourself that due to pain and limited physical activity your body is no longer receiving the benefits and starts to deteriorate. Muscle loss and shortness of breath can develop rather quickly.

The third significant effect of waiting is the state of your mental health. It is compromised due to dealing with uncertainty and constant pain. Things that you used to enjoy such as spending time with friends and family may be off limit to you because you are dealing with mobility and pain issues. You may feel isolated and develop mental anguish.

Needless to say, your general health and the quality of life are negatively affected by having to wait for medical help. What if you were to get it done quicker through private channels? The cost of private total knee replacement at one of our US facilities is USD $15,499. Another facility we work with in Canada offers it for CAD$20,000. Many Canadians decide to seek help elsewhere. To them, the quality of life trumps the issue of having to pay for their treatments. What are your thoughts on this?

(1) https://www.fraserinstitute.org/article/lets-talk-about-the-price-of-public-health-care-in-canada