There have been many recent discussions in older adult communities around our country about Healthcare and the possible cuts in Medicare.  Seniors are justifiably concerned about taking care of medical needs in the future.  Most people in the USA over the age of 65 are covered by Medicare.  Medicare is an adequate system, but it doesn’t cover all costs.  There are deductibles, co-pays, and coinsurance payments (depending on which Medicare plan is used) that have to be paid either by a supplemental insurance plan (paid for by the patient) or out-of-pocket (also paid by the patient).  There are also annual caps for some services and if exceeded any additional care has to be paid for out-of-pocket.

Add to that the cost of healthcare services in the USA being astronomical.  Any uncovered expenses can quickly add up to a large bill.  Bankruptcy filings for people aged 55+ are over 25% of all bankruptcies filed.  Many claim medical expenses as the reason for the bankruptcy.  So, what is a person to do?  Medical tourism is one option.

Medical tourism is defined as traveling outside your home city or state to receive medical care.  This type of the trip has been done within the USA for many years.  Many patients from all over the country travel to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota or the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio to receive medical care for a variety of reasons.  What is increasing is seeking medical care outside the USA.

Why would someone travel to another country to receive medical care?  The cost is one major factor.  Many countries offer excellent care for a fraction of the cost of similar care in the USA.  Another reason is access to treatments that are not available in the USA such as experimental therapies.

“Excellent treatment?  I thought the USA had the best treatments in the world.” The USA does have excellent treatment at many hospitals and clinics around the country, but that is not true throughout the entire healthcare system.  In many places there are long lines at emergency rooms, long waits (sometimes months) to see a specialist, long waits in doctor’s reception areas, and in some parts of the country no doctors or specialists at all within a reasonable distance.  If a patient has no insurance or is underinsured the options are significantly reduced.

Expense transparency is another reason.  In the USA if surgery is required, there is no way to know how much that surgery will cost until the bill is received weeks or months later.  Even if the cost is requested from the doctor or the hospital beforehand, they can’t or won’t say.  Medical clinics around the world can give that information before the treatment is scheduled.  Some even have the information on their websites.

There are now companies that specialize in arranging this type of tourism and offer door-to-door service.  That’s right they pick you up at home, organize the air tickets, have someone greet you in the foreign country, transport you to the hospital, supply a translator (many doctors in foreign countries speak English, so an interpreter is not always needed), and after the treatment get you safely home.  The price is stated all up front, no hidden fees.

Will Medicare pay for these overseas treatments?  No, but some insurance companies will cover the expense as an out of network treatment which usually means a high deductible, but some of the treatments are so inexpensive compared to having it done in the USA that people just pay for them out of pocket.

Now this works best with elective procedures and not emergencies.  Individuals who have done it often rave about the quality of care they receive is on par or much better than the care they receive in the USA.  For the best results when looking at this option research is strongly advised.  Check out the company making the arrangements, the hospital where you’ll be treated, the doctors who will treat you, etc.  Plus while you’re in the foreign country take some time to be a tourist.

Check out the Medical Tourism information on Kathe Kline’s podcast “Rock Your Retirement” where she interviews, Billy and Akaisha Kaderli.  This couple has lived around the world for several decades and has a website that covers topics about living and traveling abroad including medical tourism. In the podcast, Billy and Akaisha discuss their personal experiences with having to receive medical treatments in several countries.

Are you looking for an active adult community?  Check out The Tapestry in Garner, NC by calling 954-815-2530.