Nov 20

Chapter 4 Page 7 | What Else is Out There?

Non-Cosmetic Procedures

Except for perhaps the very cutting-edge care techniques, for which the United States maintains a still-visible edge on the rest of the world, most surgical procedures are available elsewhere from qualified and reputable doctors, in state-of-the art facilities, and at prices sharply below those in the United States. The primary examples, for now, are the private, international hospitals of the Far East, most notably but not exclusively, those in Thailand, India and Malaysia.

International private hospitals advertise a variety of procedures and services, including but not limited to:

  • Cardiology and cardiothoracic (open heart) surgery
  • Joint replacements
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Full-service gastroenterology procedures
  • Eye surgery and other ophthalmology procedures
  • Organ transplants
  • Urology and prostate procedures

They claim to be world-class, which United States residents can take to mean equivalent to or better than what they may have access to at home. There is strong evidence that the international hospitals are, in fact, that good. They represent an option that the uninsured and underinsured in the United States should not ignore, if facing unaffordable and unavoidable medical expenses.

As Good, or Even Better

The prestigious International Society of Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery (ISMICS) is an organization dominated by United States and European doctors, so it is no surprise that when Naresh Trehan, M.D., of India, was elected president in 2005, it made big news. In an interview with the India Post he made the following points:

“Having lived in the United State for 20 years, ‘I know, to get equal recognition, we [foreign doctors] have to be 150 percent better than our counterparts in America.’

“There is huge inward flow [of patients to India] from the rest of the world.”

“I’m building MediCity, which will be like the Johns Hopkins or the Mayo Clinic of the East.”

“I am not in favor of advertising, but the information should be out to people that it is possible to access treatment [and get] good outcomes and affordable costs in India; and that the experience can be very positive if one chooses the right place.”

Can anyone really doubt that quality medical care is available globally? In the United States and elsewhere, however, it is increasingly the responsibility of the patient to evaluate medical options and make choices. Fortunately, the research tools are widely available, and people can learn to master them.



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