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Violet Hill - Shoulder Arthroscopic Testimonial

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Shoulder Arthroscopic Surgery – Becoming Medical Tourists (published by Violet Hill in her local New Mexico community newsletter)

We have joined the trend toward medical tourism at our house. It started after my husband and I moved to New Mexico and stopped having health insurance. Our first medical tourism experience was with hernia surgery. We knew surgery would eventually be necessary, but it wasn’t an emergency. There was some time to do research before any decisions needed to be made. The internet worked wonderfully well for discovering useful information from around the world.

We tried to think what the best questions to ask might be and in the process clarified what was important to us. After looking at all the factors we could think it became clear to us to ask basic questions.

1.) Who, what doctors, what hospitals do we like?

2.) What procedures work best for this condition or make most sense to us?

3.) Where in the world do we want to go for this and how much does it cost to get there and stay there?

4. When can the operation be done?

5.) How much does it cost?

The hospital with the best reputation generally in the Southwest was the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. Their prices and the information about their surgery schedule are available on line. We discovered that the most famous place in the world for hernia surgery, with the highest success rate is in Toronto, Ontario. Once all was said and done the rate at the clinic in Canada was 25% of the rate in Phoenix. The difference in service was equally dramatic.

In the US hernia repair is out-patient surgery requiring a pretty lengthy recuperation period at home. At the Clinic in Canada, the Shoulder Arthroscopic Surgery is performed and then the patient stays at the hospital for three days because that is the period of susceptibility to problems. Even with the relatively lengthy stay, the Shoulder Arthroscopy Surgery was still a quarter the cost of super quick several hours in the hospital that is the standard for American hospitals.

The hospital in Canada wanted some information from our local doctor. We were a little worried about what he would say, but the appointment turned out to be rather surprising. Our doctor approved. His personal experience was that he had hernia surgery done locally when one of his patients had the same operation done in Australia. He said that even with the cost of transportation and a two week vacation at the beach, his patient ended up still paying less than he did and the outcome was the same – successful surgery.

We decided to make a vacation trip of our visit to Toronto. The hospital was an specialized one that only does hernia surgery. The grounds were beautiful and the whole thing was set up to be efficient and thrifty. The rooms were not like luxury hotel rooms, but the place was certainly well appointed. Since by far most people who have hernia surgery are male, the interior decoration was Spartan. The day of the surgery patients were given medals commemorating that fact that it was the day the hospital was doing its 300,000th hernia operation. Now, that’s a track record! When he was released from the hospital, my husband was ready to immediately continue enjoying his vacation.

Based largely on that highly satisfying experience, we had faith in the idea of medical tourism. When next we faced a case of elective surgery, it was automatic to look at all the possible choices. Since what was needed was orthopedic (arthroscopic) shoulder surgery, we turned to the internet to look at the choices that would present themselves.

After looking at many options, we also signed up for further information with two medical tourism businesses. They each then offered us choices of possible locations, surgeons and times frames. We looked at possible choices in Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica. Taking non-medical factors into account – such as that Thailand was entering a period of civil unrest, India was too expensive for this surgery, and many of the Mexican boarder towns and cities were engulfed in drug war violence, became part of the sorting out process.

We looked at each of the surgeons, read many bios, looked at websites, watched video clips and looked at videos of many hospitals. When all was said and done, there was one doctor whose biography, training and certifications made him stand out from the rest. He was our choice. We then decided what was important to us in terms of timing of the surgery and booked it.

We ended up choosing to use MedToGo, a company in Arizona, and a doctor in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The surgery was done at beautiful new hospital with rooms that did resemble a resort. There was an overnight hospital stay Mexico. The doctor was great. He and his staff were impressive. Right from the initial MRI, I was impressed with how skilled, kind and helpful all the doctors I encountered were.

Again, we marveled at the speed and ease with which everything was needed was accomplished at a fraction of the cost of having it done in the US. MedToGo made the whole experience worry free and pleasant. They did a great job. From the moment the plane landed until now, months after the surgery the MedToGo doctors in the US and Mexico have always been both available and helpful. I have found them to be much more accessible and helpful than the orthopedic surgeon who did my first shoulder surgery in the US. I know that I got the best possible treatment in the world and that just makes the whole thing experience feel even better.

We now own a MedToGo published book that rates surgeons and hospitals in Mexico by specialty and region. This makes research on choices in Mexico even easier. An email just arrived from a medical broker saying that they are now affiliated with some insurance companies. This means that people needing surgery of various sorts who have health insurance may also find themselves in India or Mexico or Germany. Times keep changing. As we know our medical system is currently broken. Until we as a nation can figure out how to fix it, going somewhere else might continue to be our best option. It has worked extremely well for my husband and me. Now that we have insurance, we will still look at all our options before deciding on any course of action. We want the best possible solutions and we have learned that they are not always the ones closest to home.

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