September 2010


If you suffer from leaking bladder accidents when you cough or laugh or sneeze, or if you have the urge of going to the bathroom all the time, you are not alone. Millions of people across all ages, both genders and all races are affected by this common problem that is termed urinary incontinence (UI), a loss of bladder control. The good news is that the underlying medical condition causing urinary incontinence is almost always treatable and today it is possible to get affordable treatment overseas through medical tourism.

URINARY INCONTINENCE TYPES AND TREATMENTS
Though urinary incontinence can be classified into several types, its three main types are: stress, urge and overflow.
Stress incontinence occurs during certain activities like coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercise, and is most commonly caused by weak pelvic floor muscles.

Urge incontinence or overactive incontinence involves a sudden urge to urinate followed by instant bladder contraction and involuntary loss of urine, and occurs regardless of the amount of urine that is in the bladder.

Overflow incontinence is the constant dribbling of urine usually associated with urinating frequently and in small amounts, and may be caused by weak bladder muscles or a blocked urethra.

Depending on the cause, type and severity of urinary incontinence as well as your lifestyle, treatment approaches available to you may include weight loss, exercises, medications, bladder retraining (timed voiding), biofeedback, electrical stimulation, and if all else fails, then surgery.

MEDICAL TOURISM
Medical tourism is the act of traveling from one city to another within your country (domestic medical tourism) or to another country by crossing international borders (overseas medical tourism) to obtain medical care that is either not available or not affordable at your local provider. The popularity of medical tourism is largely due to the availability of high quality care at a highly discounted price.

Healthcare providers participating in medical tourism boast of modern facilities with state-of-the-art equipments and technologies, and surgeons who are trained or educated in the US or Europe – all this at a cost that’s 60% to 90% cheaper compared to typical US hospital rates.

SURGICAL TREATMENT OF INCONTINENCE ABROAD
Several procedures are offered abroad for the surgical treatment of all types of incontinence – stress, urge, overflow, mixed, etc.

For curing stress incontinence in women, sling procedures such as Tension-free transvaginal (TVT) sling, Transobturator tape (TOT) sling and Mini-sling procedure are available overseas. Another type of procedure for stress incontinence treatment offered abroad is bladder neck suspension procedure which includes Marshall-Marchetti-Krantz procedure (MMK procedure) or a variant of it called Burch procedure.

To treat severe urge incontinence, procedures offered overseas include augmentation cystoplasty or a newer procedure called sacral nerve stimulation.

For the treatment of urinary incontinence in men, some of the procedures available abroad include artificial urinary sphincter, male sling, and urinary diversion.

MEDICAL TOURISM DESTINATIONS FOR INCONTINENCE SURGERY
Some of the most popular countries that patients from the United States travel to for urinary incontinence procedures are Mexico, India, Singapore and Thailand.

Apart from the considerably lower cost of surgery, Mexico is preferred for another obvious reason – its close proximity to the United States. This means shorter travel times and more convenience for the medical tourist.

Singapore‘s high quality of care along with the large concentration of internationally accredited hospitals in the country play a major role in its demand in the medical tourism market for incontinence surgery. Furthermore, English being the official language of the country makes communication with your international provider easy.

But, if you want the best value for your money then India is the answer. The medical tourism hotspot offers prices on procedures that are unbeatable. For instance, a TVT or a TOT procedure, inclusive of the hospital charges and the doctor’s fees, costs approximately USD2,500*.

Also note that urinary incontinence surgery abroad typically involves a 2-3 day stay at the hospital followed by a 3-6 day of recuperation or rehab at a nearby hotel before returning home.

So, if an incontinence surgery is what your local doctor has recommended and treatment abroad is what you wish to seek, then get your local doctor’s report along with any and all reports of diagnostic tests and then call upon a reputed medical tourism company such as Healthbase for a consultation with an overseas incontinence specialist of your choice.

*Note: The price mentioned is for rough planning purposes only. The actual price charged may vary based on your specific medical condition, the provider chosen, currency fluctuations or for any other reason. Transportation, hotel accommodation and food are not included in the price.

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Host of the first ever Youth Olympic Games, the tiny island of Singapore is also famous for many more things big and small. Claiming to be Asia’s leading medical hub, Singapore has long been the choice of destination for major medical care for patients from neighbouring countries viz., Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Middle East, Indochina, Greater China, and so on. Today, even Americans, Canadians and Europeans are choosing Singapore as a medical tourism destination for healthcare that is low, price-wise and just-like-the-West, quality-wise.

SINGAPORE’S HEALTH CARE DELIVERY

There are 15 hospitals and medical centers in Singapore that have obtained the united States-based Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation. That is a large concentration of JCI accredited hospitals in one country. A JCI accreditation gives the healthcare provider the top-quality label which in turn gives the patient the peace of mind that the service received will be on par with or superior to what is available in the United States.

Merlion, SingaporeTo appeal to patients from Europe and other Asian nations, Singapore hospitals are also looking towards European and Asian-based hospital accreditation systems. This says a lot about the quality of healthcare delivery. Not just that, hospitals in Singapore have strategic partnerships with many acclaimed overseas institutes like Harvard Medical School. Such alliances give them access to the latest cutting-edge medical technology. Also, it is common for doctors and surgeons in Singapore hospitals to have an overseas education and training.

TOP SINGAPORE HOSPITALS AND COMMON PROCEDURES

Healthbase customer from IndonesiaSome of the most famous hospitals in Singapore are National Heart Centre (NHC) , Parkway Hospitals (including Mount Elizabeth Hospital , Gleneagles Hospital , East Shore Hospital ), Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), and Raffles Hospital . Some of the common medical procedures sought in these hospitals are cardiac bypass surgeries , joint replacement procedures , cosmetic or plastic surgeries , cancer therapies like chemotherapy and radiation therapy , and so on. Increasingly, Singapore is becoming popular as an organ transplantation destination as well. Patients visit Singapore from all over the world for transplant surgeries such as liver transplant , kidney transplant , and hair transplant .

There are also several dental offices island-wide that offer good dental services to foreigners for cheap. A lot of tourists coming into Singapore combine vacation with a health check (preventive and wellness checkups) on the side.

SINGAPORE’S USP IN THE MEDICAL TOURISM INDUSTRY

Things that set Singapore apart from others vying for business in the medical tourism industry are:

  • Prosperous country: Unlike other medical tourism destinations in the world that are mostly developing countries, Singapore stands out as one of the most prosperous nations in the world with a per capita GDP equal to that of the leading nations of Western Europe.
  • Cosmopolitan image: About a quarter of the population is composed of residents from foreign nations making the country culturally diverse. Sensitivity and respect towards people from other cultures, ethnicities and religions is, therefore, at the heart of the society. For international patients seeking medical treatment in Singapore, this is a big plus.
  • High service standards: High service standards in all sectors of the economy, and not just in the health care sector, give Singapore a significant advantage in the medical tourism industry.
  • English as an official language: You will not have to worry about learning another language or bother with interpreters because English is the most commonly spoken language in the country.
  • Tourism: Medical tourists traveling to Singapore often visit the several tourist attractions the country offers. In fact, tourism in Singapore is a major industry and attracts millions of tourists each year. From cultural attractions to natural and heritage conservation sites, and from adventurous activities to relaxation retreats, Singapore caters to every type of tourist.

IN SUMMARY

Singapore may not be the cheapest option available to you in terms of health care but with a price differential of 60-80% (compared to US hospital rates) on major medical care, the cost savings still amount to a lot. High quality of care offered in modern facilities using state-of-the-art technology and equipments makes Singapore a top medical tourism hub.

So, if you need top class medical care but do not have the means to pay for it then get your local doctor’s reports together and call upon a reputed medical tourism facilitator such as Healthbase for affordable treatment in Singapore.

A surgery coupled with a zip-line flight above a rainforest is probably one of the weirdest adventures you have heard of. But that is what some tourists – medical tourists – traveling to Costa Rica are doing – taking advantage of both the fun part and the not-so-fun medical part – both at an affordable price.

You may have heard about ecotourism. That is what Costa Rica is most famous for. National parks, protected areas, forest reserves, cultural heritage, and flora and fauna untouched by human intervention are what you get to experience when you travel to this most visited nation in the region. But, did you know that Costa Rica is also one of the highly sought-after medical tourism destinations in the world?

WHAT TREATMENTS TO SEEK?

Low-cost high-quality medical care in this exotic country is the reason why patients don’t mind flying to Costa Rica. Former FOX 2 meteorologist from Michigan, Chris Edwards, can vouch for that. He took a trip to Costa Rica for a colonoscopy and some long-wanted dental work. So can Wanda Bough from Kansas, who had a hysterectomy procedure in Costa Rica and saved $23,000. Colonoscopy is a screening of the colon and rectum – the two main parts of the large intestine – to look for inflamed tissue, ulcers, and abnormal growths. Hysterectomy is a surgical removal of the uterus.

Be it cosmetic or plastic surgery ; or LASIK or dental treatments ; or the feel-good wellness treatments and preventive check-ups; or the more serious ones like bariatric , orthopedic and cardiac care ; international patients choose Costa Rica for all sorts of medical services .

WHAT ABOUT QUALITY?

As our medical tourists Chris and Wanda affirm, the service afforded is warm, personalized and above all top-notch in quality. Hospital Clinica Biblica and CIMA Hospital , for example, are both Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited.

What it means to you as a patient is that the same quality of health care that you receive in the USA can be expected at these hospitals in Costa Rica. The Joint Commission International (the international subsidiary of The Joint Commission that accredits US hospitals) is a non-governmental organization with head offices in the United States of America awarding accreditation to health centers around the world in accordance with the most selective international standards and thus ensuring patients will receive superior quality hospital service.

Wanda, who is a registered nurse, understands it very well as she explains in her statement, “I know how hard it is for us to pass certification visits [at our hospital in the US].” She was so impressed by her hospital in Costa Rica, she said, “You could eat off the floors there. The hospitals were spotless.”

WHY COSTA RICAN HEALTHCARE SELLS?

But most of all, why Costa Rican medical care sells is because it is cheap.

$350 is all Chris paid for a colonoscopy in the capital city of San Jose. In his research, doctors in the United States had asked for anywhere between $3,250 and $9,000. Some studies show hospital costs alone to be $1,400 to $3,500 in the US. After tagging on the doctor fees, anesthesiologist fees and lab costs, the cost for a colonoscopy in the United States can be overwhelmingly high especially if you are uninsured or if the test is not covered by your insurance plan. Chris carried a health insurance plan with high deductibles so he figured the medical tourism road would be the most economical even with travel and lodging costs added on. And while he was there he also had extensive dental work done which he says cost him a third of what he thinks he would have paid in the US.

BUYERS BEWARE!

However, here is a word of caution. As with any country in the world, it is true that there are both good and poor providers in Costa Rica as well. So we recommend you do your homework well or engage a specialized medical tourism facilitator. Wanda and Chris are glad they chose the US-based Healthbase to connect them to medical and dental facilities in Costa Rica and also so they could benefit from the various concierge services offered by the company.

IN SUMMATION

Costa Rican humming birdIf you are an eco-tourist looking for affordable medical attention, then Costa Rica is a perfect destination for you. The beautiful surroundings you will get for recuperation will be an added bonus. Just remember to do your due diligence or simply hire a medical travel agent like Healthbase to save you the headache. Also, when you are in Costa Rica remember to make a bird-watching stop because the country is home to 800 species of them!

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