Movies would have us believe that medical tourism means flying to a remote, unregulated city for a procedure that’s unconventional, unnecessary, or dangerous. But thanks to the twenty-first-century ease of travel and accessibility of research, medical tourism may help you find skilled physicians, save money, and receive the best care possible.
Globally, many people consider the U.S. a medical tourism hub. Thanks to clinics like Longview’s Pacific Surgical Center (PSC), patients from Canada and beyond can find a one-stop-shop for all their outpatient surgical needs.
PSC doctors work with your medical team to determine the best course of treatment. Costs include surgery, the facility fee, surgeon’s fee, and anesthesiologist’s fee, and financial counselors are always available to walk you through the entire process. For many people, posted transparency pricing is cheaper than billing traditional insurance.
This commitment to quality care and maintaining such a simplified, streamlined process will benefit visitors and locals alike. And the ability to have lab work and follow-up care under one roof means fewer visits overall, and less stress throughout.
A recent article in the American Journal of Medicine noted that “The number of medical tourists to all countries in 2017 was estimated at 14-16 million. The number of US medical tourists and the number of medical tourists in the world is expected to increase by 25% per year.”
The top reasons for travel include orthopedics, dentistry, cosmetic surgery, reproductive, and weight loss. One study suggests that people are influenced on where to go by “higher quality care and services, reduced cost of cross-border medical treatment, [and] medical treatment combined with attractive destinations.”
The World Health Organization reports that people engage in medical tourism in search of the “most advanced technology, better-quality care for medically necessary procedures, quicker access for medically necessary procedures, lower-cost care for medically necessary procedures, [and] lower-cost care for discretionary procedures.”
Their research shows that a hip replacement procedure which costs $47,000 in the United States is only $12,000 in Thailand, $9,000 in India, and less than $6,500 in Poland. There are even medical tourism pilot programs for several insurance providers. Insured patients from Wisconsin, Florida, California, and South Carolina have access to treatment in India, Thailand, and Mexico.
Washington is ideal thanks to its proximity to many west coast international airports, beautiful geography, and cutting-edge scientists. PSC’s team includes “board-certified and board-eligible physicians [who] perform advanced surgical procedures, specializing in orthopedics, urology, gastroenterology, podiatry, and general surgery. Each physician is highly educated, trained and skilled. In addition, we have some of the most experienced surgeons in the area. Our nursing staff also has extensive experience, with many nurses having both operating room and recovery room certification.”
If you’re thinking of planning a trip abroad for care, do your homework. The CDC warns patients about potential language barriers, counterfeit medication, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and blood clots caused by flying too soon after surgery.
They advise that “If you are planning to travel to another country for medical care, see a travel medicine provider at least 4–6 weeks before the trip to discuss general information for healthy travel and to learn about specific risks related to the procedure and to travel before and after the procedure.”
Once that’s taken care of, check qualifications of all medical providers, establish financial information and costs up-front, bring copies of medical records and needed prescription medications, arrange follow-up care for when you return home and find an interpreter if you’re going somewhere and don’t speak the language.
Wherever you go, surgery can be stressful. Studies show that “Anxiety can make pain worse, as well as making it harder to cope with the pain…Anxiety also becomes a problem if it makes it harder to understand and remember important things you are told about the operation, such as advice about how to prepare for it or about recovering afterward.”
But if your issue deals with orthopedics, urology, gastroenterology, podiatry, or general surgery, consider an outpatient center like PSC instead. Costs are fixed and clearly advertised, procedures don’t require overnight stays, and they’ll help with billing your insurance company, should you choose to do so.
If PSC sounds like just what the doctor ordered, go online and request a specialist or give call 360-442-7900. Their clinic is one hour from Portland and two from Seattle. With most surgery taking less than four hours, you could be in, out, and home in time for dinner. There’s nothing quite like sleeping in your own bed, waking up to restored health, mobility, and pain-free days.