Friday, May 18, 2007

Margarita's & Medicine

OK, so too many Mamba lessons have blown out your hip. You need a new one. You know, one of those new ones made from metal that is used for the hull of the Starship Enterprise. What do you do?

You can cough up the $40,000 or so to have your joint replaced (if you do not have insurance).

Or, you can jet to an exotic isle where the procedure is more like $6000. Add in the cost of air fare, hotel, and a few drinks with parasols delivered to your cabana and you might have less than $10,000 tied up.

Medical tourism has become a hot item for discussion. You can debate the merits & downside either way, but here are some things you may not know or have even considered.

There is tremendous liability to those who sponsor, or even participate in the cost of this treatment. If your employer health plan pays a portion of the cost, and something goes wrong, is your employer (or plan administrator) liable?


What if your carrier pays a portion of the cost?

Same issue.

If there are complications while in another country which require follow up treatment once you return home, who pays for translating your medical records?

If there are complications, how many doctors do you think are willing to go back and correct something a doctor in a foreign country did wrong?

Recently I was asked about health insurance that only covered annual physicals, ER visits and overseas medical.

My response was:

There are no financial reasons for buying insurance to cover your annual exam.

If you go to the ER and are admitted, then you pay for the hospital admission. The time (and dollars) spent in the ER are but a fraction of the cost of inpatient care.

There are carriers that offer overseas medical, but the coverage is limited to events that are not pre-existing, and is intended as a supplement to your traditional major medical.

But for sake of argument, let's say you find such a policy. The cost of the plan would be exceptionally high since only a few people would consider such a plan. The premium would almost certainly approach the cost of a more traditional major med plan, so why even take that route?

So you don't care. That is what you want and nothing will convince you otherwise. Guess what your plan does not pay?

Inpatient stays in the U.S.

Outpatient meds which for some conditions can easily run $8,000 per month

And what about physical therapy?

Home health care?

Why buy a policy that doesn't cover any of these?

Makes no sense to me.
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