Medical Tourism Heating Up

I have always been a fan of medical tourism.   If any country wants to hire me as their “medical” ambassador, just give me a call.  Why?  The bottom line is that if the doctors are good and the price is much cheaper then they deserve the business.  And what a business it is. Nearly three million patients go abroad for medical treatment every year. There was a 100 billion dollars spent in 2012, compared with 79 billion in 2010.   This is not to say that medical tourism is perfect.  As the linked article says, the aftercare is lacking.   Agreed.   But I still believe in competition and I have blogged before how offering services outside of this country has brought new options and lower costs in this country.  Funny how that happens.   And seriously, if any country wants a spokesperson, ambassador, liaison or overall good guy to represent their country for medical tourism then you know where to find me.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  10 comments for “Medical Tourism Heating Up

  1. Troyanne Schram, RRT
    May 10, 2012 at 2:37 am

    … So what about the “routine,” procedure that goes desperately wrong, like the 55 year old knee replacement that throws an MI and then a pulmonary embolus? Are they going to ship them back to an ICU in the States for the ventilator care, the trach, the hemodialysis, and all the cascade of events in a body attempting to fail? Working in an ICU, I’ve seen far too many “simple” events that didn’t turn out too simple. I don’t think that are that many people who would want to spend the next six months or year away from family and friends trying to recover from a catastrophic event, when the social support and post hospital care can be so important.
    The thought of medical tourism is admirable, but I see far too many of that outlier type of event. It scares me.

  2. tpm
    May 9, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    It is a republican dream. Let the marketplace solve the issues.
    Unfortunately if you are poor, your medical tourism is limited to your nearest ER where you can walk.
    If you are wealthy it is Mayo or MD Anderson.
    If you are upper middle class it is whatever ad you fall for from the internet in Thailand or India.

    Caveat Emptor.
    Oddly enough when complications occur the “tourists ” return home and expect me to fix the problems

    • May 10, 2012 at 4:00 pm

      Actually, the Republicans are all now co-opted by Medicare, which will become socialized care for all. So you DON’T want the marketplace solving these issues? What else is there but a government that has shown itself to be utterly incompetent at providing decent, affordable care? Market forces are the only hope to reduce costs while still maintaining quality and/or access.

  3. John Chase
    May 9, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    It’s all fine and good if everything goes well. When complications occur it is unfair and insulting to the local physician who is asked to take care of that complication. Why are they suddenly good enough to take care of the complication when they weren’t good enough to provide the original care?
    Patients who wish to go out of country for their care should be willing to do their followup there as well!

  4. mamadoc
    May 9, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Exactly. It’s all great unless there is a complication. A little hard to go back to the original surgeon and harder still to litigate (can you imagine the complications of THAT?) Then there’s the whole matter of infection with organisms yet to be seen in the US….

  5. Theodore Bacharach
    May 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Although the general care lacks much in many countries they do have hospitals and physicians who are quite capable and provide excellent care for patients from other countries. Perhaps some type of international medical society should be considered and the type and quality of medical care provided in other countries be evaluated.

  6. Maxine Harris
    May 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Any1 thinking of medical tourism in India might want to reconsider, per a recent NPR story about incurable TB & the ineffectiveness of antibx, which are apparently available OTC in India &, hence, very overused.

  7. Sir Lance-a-Lot
    May 9, 2012 at 11:12 am

    “…if any country wants a spokesperson, ambassador, liaison or overall good guy to represent their country for medical tourism then you know where to find me.”

    Ooooh! Me too, Doug, me too!!

  8. Aaron Levine MD
    May 9, 2012 at 9:27 am

    I am treating a patient who had a gastric sleeve/bypass done in Mexico. It was not covered by her insurance as an elective operation. She now has complications. Her insurance is denying coverage since it was an elective operation done out of country.

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