The cost of knee replacement in the United States can be prohibitive, ranging from $35,000 to $65,000. Because of this, many uninsured patients in the United States are forced to inevitably delay their knee replacement surgery, and to live with reduced mobility and excruciating pain.
Medical Tourism is a growing trend - as more and more people turn to countries such as Taiwan for affordable healthcare. Taiwan offers world-class medical care at affordable prices, in facilities that rival the finest medical centers in the world.
Patients can expect to pay under $10,000 for an all-inclusive knee replacement surgery package, including accommodation in the VIP ward of a JCI-accredited hospital. Even after factoring in the price of airfare, patients can save more than 75% over the cost of surgery in the United States, while receiving medical care from some of the world's finest surgeons.
Formosa Medical Travel is a medical tourism agency that assists patients in every step of the medical tourism process. We will book your surgery, securely transfer your medical records, coordinate communication with your doctor, arrange all transportation and accommodations, and we will be there at the airport when you arrive.
For more information on Formosa Medical Travel and the hospitals and doctors in our network, visit our website at http://FormosaMedicalTravel.com
By: slachapelle: Mar, 01, 2010 09:16 AM
I am torn on this issue. While I see the point in saving money in times like these, should we really be thinking about saving money on our medical procedures? Aren't there other places we should be cutting corners instead?
Part of me wants to think that we aren't prejudiced and consider that everyone in our medically advanced country will think that the doctors performing procedures in other countries are board certified and well-trained, but that may not be the case, or there are a different, less stringent set of rules in other countries. If it's as easy as it is here to pose as a medical professional, I imagine it is just as easy in other countries. Saving money is one thing, but putting my life in danger to do it? No thanks!
However, Formosa Medical Travel does seem legitamate, and I like that they have certain accredidation guidelines, but I still think you can never be too weary of phony medical professionals. If you are having a non-elective procedure, those doctors don't necessarily know your case and aren't necessarily familiar with your specific conditions. I think its a risk.
By: JoeMeloni: Jan, 06, 2010 14:13 PM
After reading Don's post, I did some research on Joint Commission International. It is a U.S.-based non-profit organization that accredits hospitals.
It's mission statement is:To continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value.
It all seems pretty legitimate, but I'd still recommend doing a lot of research into any hospital if you're considering medical tourism.
By: FormosaMedicalTravel_Don: Jan, 05, 2010 01:39 AM
You're right, in many ways. Considering the advantages that many countries have over the United States, the globalization of healthcare is a logical step.
It seems that the American medical system has a long way to go -- as you say, many healthcare providers seem almost complacent in the way they provide service – especially when it comes to transparency in pricing – knowing that people have little choice. My hope is that as medical tourism grows, and as Americans realize they have many options, healthcare providers in the United States will have to fix much of what's broken about the system.
Part of the appeal of the medical centers in Taiwan – and other medical tourism destinations, as well – is the transparency in pricing that they offer. Patients are always given a price quote prior to surgery, and that is the price that they pay following treatment. Many medical tourism agencies charge extra "service fees" to the patient – ours does not. The cost to our patients is the same, regardless of whether they choose to use our services or contact the hospital directly.
But of course – as your comment alludes – price is not the only issue. The most important thing when considering a potentially life-changing surgery is the quality of care you will receive.
Many hospitals have been awarded accreditation from Joint Commission International (JCI), who operates a very stringent accreditation program for international hospitals. There are seven JCI-accredited hospitals in Taiwan, and dozens more around the world.
Taiwan has one of the finest healthcare systems in the world, by many accounts. The Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Taiwan's healthcare second in the world, behind only Sweden. Many surgeons in Taiwan were trained in the United States – in fact, every surgeon in our network has worked or studied in the U.S.
I believe strongly that medical tourism has a very bright future. As the reputation of overseas doctors and medical centers continues to grow, more and more Americans will take advantage of the high quality of care, world-class service level, and significant cost savings that are available in countries such as Taiwan.
By: JoeMeloni: Dec, 30, 2009 14:56 PM
From reading various articles accounting Americans' experiences with medical tourism, it seems like nothing more than an extension of capitalism.
In this piece from Dec. 21's San Francisco Chronicle, a man from Washington, D.C., was unable to receive a price for the coronary bypass procedure he needed.
U.S. doctors refused to give him a price. "They would almost be proud of it," Freeman said. "They would say, 'That's not my department, I do operations. I don't have any idea how much anything costs.' Even the nurse would get mad at me and say, 'You want me to connect you with the billing department?' "
For almost anything else that you plan to purchase, you'd look around to see the best value. Unfortunately, the medical industry doesn't seem to care if you can afford surgery or not. They know you need it, and they know most people will do just about anything to get the surgery.
If this becomes anything resembling a hot button in the near future, Americans who choose to travel to receive surgery will inevitably be scolded for doing so. Surgeons and hospitals will mention that foreign doctors aren't as qualified as American doctors.
It isn't the price of surgery in the U.S. that bothers me, so much as the way this man was unable to receive an answer from any of the people he contacted when he asked how much his procedure would cost. Blaming the surgeons isn't the way to go I suppose, though. They're a part of the system, and they don't have much to say about it. Don't hate the player, hate the game.
Still, there's a level of arrogance in the medical field. They don't feel as though they need to answer to anyone, so the hospital can charge whatever price it likes.
Why shouldn't doctors have to answer to their patients?
Beyond the issue of price, it's good that foreign nations are developing medical care on-par with the U.S. However, when you analyze the price list provided in the Chronicle's article:
Heart bypass: $8,500 in India; in the U.S., $144,000
Liver transplant: $75,000 in Latin America; in the U.S., up to $315,000
Dental implant: $1,000 in Costa Rica; in the U.S., $2,000-$10,000
Face-lift: $4,000 in Singapore; in the U.S., $15,000
Knee replacement: $10,650 in Mexico; in the U.S., $50,000
it's apparent that while $75,000 seems cheap for a liver transplant to us or $1,000 for a dental implant, the people in these nations likely struggle to afford those. If the surgery is on par with the procedure in the U.S., and the doctor is as qualifed, then why do American hosptials and doctors charge so much for their services?
As more Americans head elsewhere to receive operations, the reputation of foreign doctors would only improve. Perhaps some pressure in the form of international competition will force American doctors to lower their prices.
Don't count on it, though.
By: : Dec, 29, 2009 12:37 PM
I think "medical tourism" is a fascinating topic and one that's especially relevant these days because of rising healthcare costs (which are expected to rise in 2010) and because of people's personal financial struggles. IN fact, a few months ago I read about this in an article in the New York Times.
The article mentions India, and what's interesting is that, not only is it benfitting American tourists in need, I'm sure it is benefiting places that have performed the surgeries on these tourists.
The article brings up a lot of good points, though, until we are able to really track the success of overseas surgery and compare it to the ones performed here by American hospitals and doctors - we can't really be 100% sure that it's worth the cheaper costs.
With articles like these - I'm reminded how the quality of medicine is improving worldwide and, honestly, it's really exciting. If these overseas hospitals are truly providing comparable care - this is a great thing for their countries on the whole. When businesses compete, this often provides benefits for the consumer--I wonder if we will start to see America reacting to this and either a) providing cheaper care b) working to provide even better care (that's worth the higher cost). Either of these is a good option in my opinion.
But I worry that if a few mistakes happen (as they inevitably will - and, of course, already do happen in every hospital) these overseas hospitals might get exceedingly negative press over here. The media has an interesting way of cajoling consumers into believing and subsequently acting upon their often emotional stories.
I'm reminded stories from the past year of Kanye West's mother and Usher's girlfriend (both of whom, I believe, went to Mexico to receive cheaper, secret plastic surgery). The former actually ended up dying from surgical complications and the latter was in critical condition for a while. These incidents received a lot of press (although they were closely tied to celebrities, which have their own effect on the media). I'm not knowledgeable about Mexican hospitals, but if many of them actually are comparable to American hospitals - this particular press might have ruined their otherwise steady business (for medical tourism and otherwise). I can definitely see this same thing happening with foreign hospitals.
And the idea of going abroad to get certain cosmetic surgeries makes sense if a patient is looking for a more affordable way to improve their appearance with procedures. But it surprised me that people are going for life-saving procedures like high-risk heart and organ replacement surgeries as well. I think it's a great opportunity for these foreign hospitals to bulk up on both experience and money. I'm interested to see where this will go in the next few years and how Americans will respond to the idea overall and on an individual basis.
By: JoeMeloni: Dec, 29, 2009 12:08 PM
Formosa Medical Travel is not the only group aiming to draw foreigners to its nation for cheaper, yet-still-effective medical care.
Announced Monday, the South Korean government enacted a plan entitled "Medical Korea," which aims to draw "400,000 medical tourtists per year by 2015."
In recent years, the cost of health care in the United States has become a major issue for social, political and medical commentators.
As the FMT advertisement says, it makes sense for Americans to travel to certain countries for quality medical care at a lower rate.
What does everyone think about this? The Formosa Medical post made us wonder if we should remove it, but after checking out the organization, we decided it could help some people find quality medical care.
Is this a good or bad idea? Why?