Author: Medical Tourism Magazine
Experts predict that that half of all Americans with employer-based health plans could soon find themselves with cancelled coverage. Their losses would be in addition to the millions who found their individual coverage cancelled for the same reason – Obamacare.
Kelly Jenkins, who tore a meniscus while taking kite boarding lessons, didn’t need to search for answers — like most patients and providers questioning healthcare reform – for which she already knew. The founder and CEO of 360 Global Health in Los Angeles knew everything she needed to know about medical tourism and didn’t need much coaxing to join the millions of Americans who have traveled abroad looking for affordable and quality procedures and treatments.
“I wanted to experience what our clients experience when they go overseas for a medical procedure,” said Jenkins, a medical tourism facilitator who matches patients with doctors and accommodations around the world. “It sounds nuts. I really did want to experience what our patients do.”
Jenkins returned home to California this month from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with an NBC Bay Area team of reporters and cameras, which chronicled her successful surgery to repair her knee in a consolidated effort with the Medical Tourism Association®.
“This will actually end up helping everyone in the United States who goes to an American hospital for surgery,” Jenkins, a member of the Medical Tourism Association®, told NBC Bay Area. “It will force American hospitals to look at their inefficiencies and hopefully lower costs, so it will be more affordable all the way around.”
Jenkins estimates that the procedure to repair her knee would have cost $12,000-$14,000 in the United States. In Mexico, the procedure cost only $5,000, nearly a third of the price at home.
Dr. Max Grieg, an orthopedic surgeon and her doctor, said roughly 70 percent of his business comes from medical tourism patients traveling from the United States and Canada. He alluded to how he is able to keep costs down while attending the 6th World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress, earlier this month, in Las Vegas, where thousands of medical providers like him from nearly 200 countries including Turkey, India, Costa Rica, and Nigeria converged for five days of education and shared experiences.
“If you compare what I have to pay every year for malpractice insurance here in Mexico compared to my colleagues in the United States, I’m paying a tenth of what they may pay,”
Certification Adds Credentials
Antonio Kanickaraj, a member of the Medical Tourism Association®, traveled from India to the Congress to gain certification in medical tourism, which he believes will attract more American patients to his country.
“Certification basically adds credentials to my business,” he said. “People look for a reliable source because they put their life into somebody else’s hands.”
Renée-Marie Stephano, president of the Medical Tourism Association®, said this year’s Congress was the largest to date and that because of the Affordable Care Act and confusion surrounding the healthcare reform rollout, interest in the industry will continue to grow.
“Look at the daily headlines,” she said. “Healthcare reform and where and how consumers will be able to obtain affordable care without compromising quality is on the minds of us all – patients, doctors, hospital administrators, insurance executives and especially employers who want to offer healthcare coverage to their employees, yet keep their companies solvent.”
Do the Homework
The idea to make medical tourism part of healthcare coverage is making more sense to employers and insurance companies, alike, said Stephano, and enticing more patients to comparison shop for healthcare beyond their backyards.
Jenkins, who did her homework and researched various international doctors and facilities and their accompanying certifications and accreditations, said the savings from medical tourism procedures is well worth any perceived risk.
“There is absolutely no doubt, I will probably never have surgery in an American hospital again,” she said. “Medical tourism makes impossible healthcare solutions possible.”