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Posts Tagged ‘medical travel’

Looks like ‘domestic medical tourism’ is the hot phrase for 2012 – and a new article on Forbes.com displays this in fourteen point font.  Unfortunately, the article is the same old rehash of healthcare statistics with little to no new information on the topic.

But is there are glass ceiling on the medical tourism industry?

In overseas news – this article out of India (UK Daily Mail) portrays a different view of the medical tourism industry – one of grand dreams and schemes but a much less glamourous and glittering reality.

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is how I would rate my entire trip to Mexicali.  After making several previous trips to different parts of Mexico over the years – I had a lot of preconceived notions about Mexicali.  But despite being a large border city; I encountered few, if any of the tourist stereotypes that I expected (from visits to Ensenada, Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, and other tourist towns).  Instead of being treated like a ‘mark’ or a rich gringo, everyone I encountered went out of their way to be helpful, friendly and polite.  Strangers on the street offered directions – hotel staff gave friendly advice, and all of the medical receptionists I spoke with were exceedingly kind (which is not always the case.)  Much of the time, people on the street, in restaurants, and other locations assisted us in English.  Needless to say, it was a pleasant surprise – that my husband commented on several times.

Of course, some of the stereotypes about border towns were true; such as the occasional whiff of open sewer, poorly maintained sidewalks and pedestrian walkways but there were crosswalks at many corners and drivers did seem to yield to pedestrians.  Traffic was fairly smooth and uncongested in Zona Central.  Stoplights were present and functional, but the streets were not particularly well-lit at night, so I would advise taking the usual ‘big-city’ precautions.

The border crossings were easy (took about fifteen minutes to come back across to Calexico), and it seemed like even the American border patrol were more pleasant than usual.  (Unfortunately, I found in the past that they do look at you a bit sideways in Orlando after several months in Colombia).

I don’t usually recommend hotels and such (since I’m not ‘Trip Advisor’, after all) but in this case – I would like to recommend the Hotel del Norte for several reasons.  It’s a modest but attractive establishment, reasonably priced with friendly staff but more importantly, it’s one of few appropriate hotels in Zona Central, where most of the medical offices and hospitals are located.

There are quite a few gorgeous, and luxurious properties in Mexicali but most of them are located farther across town.  The Hotel del Norte is literally just steps away from the border on Francisco Maduro, which was very convenient for my needs. (I prefer to be in walking distance of the areas I am touring/ interviewing in.)  So – over time – as I move across town in my interviewing process, I get to see and know more parts of the city I am writing about.  I stayed in four different hotels while writing the first Cartagena book, for example.

I’ll bring you more news on my next visit..

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The latest issue of Medical Tourism Magazine is devoted to in-bound and domestic medical tourism while HealthNews.com touts medical tourism as a solution to the health care crisis..

At the same time, proposed cuts to Medicare reimbursement schedules for physicians are predicted to further impact health care access for seniors.  (Before you start blaming the doctors – remember that the majority of health care dollars – including medicare spending is tied up in the bureaucratic paperwork shuffle back and forth from doctors and government or third-party payers.. Not to mention all the uncollectable fees from uninsured and underinsured patients.   The medicare reimbursement system is so convoluted that even simple procedures and office visits become an incomprehensible billing mess.. Right now, I think quite a few doctors would look fondly back on the days of bartering a chicken, eggs or a homemade pie for services..)

This new proposal is viewed as a solution to the previous proposed cut of 29.5% which is set to take effect on January 1, 2012.  Instead – they propose a reimbursement rate freeze for the next TEN years (for primary care, while cutting reimbursement for specialists by almost six percent per year for the next three years..)  Either plan – is bad news as we consider the out-of-control health care inflation..

Of course, the real solution is as unpalatable as fixing the tax code.. Streamlining – or simplifying the process is the obvious solution until we remember that this grossly bloated, unwieldly and inefficient system employs hundreds of thousands of people… (Just like the IRS)..  And its political suicide to suggest cutting out the real source of waste in the middle of next great depression..  Instead of eliminating these massive bureaucracies – we’ll end up with some sort of New ‘New Deal’ – with further mortgaging and hemorrhaging of our children’s economic futures..  Doctors aren’t happy, patients aren’t happy..

Is it any wonder that we have to look outside the United States for solutions to our medical crisis?

And Finally, this article in a local paper demonstrates that not all hospitals are equal in quality and care.  In this story  – a family complains about the care their mother received after developing a sternal infection following bypass surgery.  Sternal infections such as mediastinitis can be very serious – and are one of the outcome measures rated and reported as part of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) international database.  This is why potential medical travellers should use caution and research destinations (using the Hidden Gem series or similar investigative medical writing) and facilities prior to arranging for surgical care (domestic or overseas.)

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