JCI


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!

Anadolu Medical Center (AMC) established a partnership with Turkish Airlines, that prepared a support program offering special discounts and incentives for international patients:

  • Up to 25% discounts for travels from USA to Turkey.
  • 20% discount for travel from other countries to Turkey.
  • 10 kg excess luggage allowance for the patient and companions.
  • Max. 2 companions with the patient are entitled for the same discount.
  • No rebooking penalty if rebooking is required because of medical complications.

To book your medical appointment at Anadolu Medical Center for affordable high quality health care, contact Healthbase.

For more information:

The rising cost of health care in the United States is forcing an increasing number of U.S. citizens to turn their sights on Mexico for expert and cost-effective medical attention. But what about the health care for the elderly Americans who are already residing in Mexico? Should they be covered by Medicare in Mexico or should they have to fly back to America every time they need major medical care? Can the medical care providers in Mexico be trusted with the health of American seniors? Here’s an excellent read that recently appeared in a Mexican newspaper.

According to Paul Crist, the founder and president of Americans for Medicare for Mexico (AMMAC), a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing Medicare coverage to seniors living in Mexico, of the 800,000 American citizens living in Mexico approximately 200,000 are over 60 years old and thus are at or near eligibility for Medicare benefits.

Christ has lobbied 85 members of the U.S. Congress and prepared a 34-page proposal in which he outlines the pros of extending Medicare to Mexico. Medicare is now spending 6,700 dollars per year per beneficiary in the United States. For the same care in Mexico, Crist estimates that it will spend only 3,400 dollars, which translates to a very substantial saving.

Crist says that if Medicare is extended to Mexico, the program would only work with health care providers approved by JCI.

Although the health sector in Mexico is regulated and certified by the Mexican General Health Commission, the task of getting JCI certification for Mexico’s private hospitals is of prime importance.

One of the main reasons for pushing for certification is that the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA obligates the Mexican medical system to be on a par with the United States and Canada, allowing for the free flow of patients from border to border and for fair trade, much like in other economic sectors.

But there is another huge reason for this interest in JCI certification and that is Medicare.

Crist revealed that ten hospitals in Mexico have JCI accreditation but another 23 are seeking approval. Among those already approved are the American British Padre Hospital and the Santa Fe Hospital in Mexico City and the Christus Muguerza Hospital and the Hospital Tec de Monterrey in Monterrey.

The approval of Medicare would greatly benefit hospitals such as Christus Muguerza, a Texas chain that now has seven hospitals under construction across Mexico. They have the advantage because their headquarters is in Texas, which gives Medicare a bit more confidence in the quality service they are going to provide.

In a recent interview with Forbes magazine, David Warner, a professor of health care policy at the University of Texas at Austin and a specialist on Medicare in Mexico, stated that an in-depth pilot project is needed to better understand the economics, determine whether Mexican heath care meets Medicare’s quality standards and determine if the payment system is sufficiently free of fraud.

According to Forbes, the U.S government is concerned that creating a Mexican medical exemption might be too complicated and costly to implement and would open the door for Americans in other countries.

Crist figures that if Medicare were accepted in Mexico, the 64 percent of American retirees currently flying back to the United States for expensive care would opt for treatment nearer their homes, cutting Medicare overall costs by a minimum of 22 percent.

Source: Guadalajara Reporter

For more information about quality health care services in Mexico and other countries at a major discounted price, log on to Healthbase and request a FREE quote for surgery.

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Healthbase looks to expanding its medical travel services to Jordan adding more internationally accredited hospitals to its already wide and rich network of healthcare and dental care providers in the United States and overseas.

Press Release — July 22, 2009

Healthbase , the leading US-based medical tourism facilitator , is gearing up to connect patients to top-notch internationally accredited healthcare providers in Jordan. This comes consequently after the recent familiarization tour (Fam Tour) of Jordan and of its world-class hospitals, an effort that was co-arranged by Private Hospitals Association of Jordan (PHA), Jordan Tourism Board, the Jordanian government and Medical Tourism Association (MTA).

According to Saroja Mohanasundaram, CEO of Healthbase, “We are grateful to the organizers for recognizing us as a pioneer and leader in the medical tourism industry and inviting us to the Fam Tour. Through this visit we look forward to establishing partnerships with several health care providers in Jordan. The Jordan Fam Tour has allowed us the opportunity to minutely evaluate the Jordanian healthcare so we can put on offer what’s best for our customers.”

Medical tourism in Jordan is ranked first in the Southwest Asian region and fifth in the world, according to one study by medical tourism experts at the World Bank (WB). The Jordanian government has also implemented processes to make immigration for inbound medical tourists quick and easy.

“Jordan has quite an advanced health care system and highly educated hospital workforce. Hospital staffs consider English as their second language. Furthermore, the country has several Joint Commission International accredited (JCI accredited) private hospitals which prove that the quality of care offered to international patients is on par with what is provided by their American counterparts,” added Mohanasundaram.

Treatment expenses in Jordan are only 25% or less compared to the cost in the United States of America, the amount being inclusive of airfare, patient’s stay as well as sightseeing tours.

“Although the primary reason why our patients travel abroad is to receive affordable top quality medical care, the complete medical plus tourism package that Jordan offers cannot be ignored,” noted Mohanasundaram.

Jordan, which is a popular tourism destination, received over 6 million arrivals in 2008. Tourist attractions in the country range from ancient historical places like Petra to unique desert sightseeing, and natural locations such as the Dead Sea to cultural and religious sites.

With its soon-to-be-announced venture into Jordan medical tourism , Healthbase is poised to continue to offer the most extensive network of healthcare providers covering every continent on the globe. Healthbase clients can currently choose their medical tourism destination from India, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, New Zealand, Turkey, Hungary, Belgium, Spain, Costa Rica, Panama, Brazil, Mexico, and USA for their low cost high quality medical and dental care needs. Healthbase expects soon to expand its services to include Jordan, Taiwan, South Africa, Canada, UK, Poland, Czech Republic, Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Australia.

About Healthbase:

Healthbase, an award-winning US-based medical tourism and dental tourism facilitator, is a one-stop source for global medical and dental choices, connecting patients to leading internationally accredited healthcare providers in 16 countries including India, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Turkey, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and USA. Healthbase caters to individual consumers, self-funded businesses, insurers, benefits plan consultants, third party administrators and those using Consumer Directed Healthcare Plans (CDHPs) or voluntary benefit plans. Healthbase coordinates over 200 procedures in various categories like orthopedic, spinal , cardiac , bariatric , urology , oncology , dental , cosmetic and general surgery . Some of the common procedures offered are Birmingham hip resurfacing , total hip replacement , knee replacement , ACL repair , rotator cuff surgery , spinal fusion , spinal disk replacement , heart bypass surgery , lap band , gastric bypass , cancer treatment , liposuction, dental implants, crowns, bridges, etc. for a fraction of the cost in the US with equal or superior outcomes. To ensure that patients receive the best care possible, Healthbase works mainly with hospitals that have international accreditations like JCI, JCAHO and ISO. To learn more, call 1-888-691-4584, email info.hb @ healthbase.com or visit http://www.healthbase.com.

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Today, medical tourism is a widely accepted and proven formula for top quality care at low cost. Given the manifold increase in the number of patients traveling overseas for medical and surgical care from the US, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) has recognized that surgical care has become more readily available in a wider global market, and that this phenomenon is here to stay. So, the College recently developed an official “Statement on Medical and Surgical Tourism”, which according to ACS are “consistent with the College’s longstanding advocacy position of promoting an environment of optimal care for the surgical patient”.

The College has developed several key principles (listed below) for those who choose to seek surgical care abroad. The College:

  • encourages patients to seek care of the highest quality and supports their rights to select their surgeons and health care institutions without restriction.
  • encourages its Fellows to assist all patients in reaching informed decisions concerning medical care, whether at home or abroad.
  • advises patients to consider the medical, social, cultural, and legal implications of seeking medical treatment abroad prior to deciding on a venue of care.
  • encourages patients electing to receive treatment abroad to seek care at health care institutions that have met the standards for accreditation established by recognized accrediting organizations.
  • encourages patients electing treatment abroad to seek care from surgeons and anesthesiologists certified in their specialties through a process equivalent to that established by the member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties.
  • encourages patients receiving treatment abroad to obtain a complete set of medical records prior to returning home so that the details of their care are immediately available to their physicians and surgeons in the U.S. Follow-up care at home should be organized prior to travel whenever possible.
  • encourages patients contemplating medical tourism to understand the special risks of combining long international flights and certain vacation activities with anesthesia and surgical procedures.
  • opposes the imposition of provisions for mandatory referral of patients by insurers to health care institutions outside the U.S., unless such provisions are clearly and explicitly stated in the insurance contract and accepted by the subscriber.
  • supports the view that payors referring patients for mandatory treatment abroad should be responsible for the coordination and reimbursement of follow-up care in the U.S., including the management of postoperative complications, readmissions, rehabilitation, and long-term care.

Source: Statement on Medical and Surgical Tourism by ACS

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Healthbase Collaborates with WellPoint to Bring Affordable Medical Tourism Solutions

Healthbase collaborates with WellPoint to bring affordable healthcare benefits to Americans through an international medical tourism pilot program. Members will now have more choices regarding where to receive care and a greater involvement in the care they receive

BOSTON, Jan. 5 /PRNewswire/ — Healthbase Online Inc., a Boston-based award-winning medical tourism facilitator, has collaborated on a pilot basis with WellPoint, Inc., an Indianapolis-based health benefits company to provide global health care coverage to members of WellPoint’s affiliated health plan in Wisconsin. Healthbase will handle all the medical travel logistics and arrangements for WellPoint members.

According to Saroja Mohanasundaram, CEO of Healthbase (http://www.healthbase.com), “Healthbase is committed to providing high quality medical travel services at affordable cost. Healthbase will assist WellPoint members with coordination of the trip, medical appointment scheduling, digital medical records transfer, and concierge travel service.”

Under this program, effective from January 2009, members who travel for certain non-emergency elective procedures like joint replacement and spinal fusion, will have access to Joint Commission International accredited healthcare providers in India. This will result to lower out-of-pocket costs for members translating into thousands of dollars in total savings. A hip replacement surgery, for example, costing over $60,000 in the US, costs less than $8,000 at an accredited hospital in India.

“We are pleased to work collectively with Healthbase to deliver an international medical tourism pilot product to our clients who are interested in exploring a medical tourism solution,” said Dr. Razia Hashmi, vice president and medical director for WellPoint’s national accounts division. “Medical tourism is a promising option for improving access to affordable, quality health care. Working with Healthbase, our case managers will coordinate all steps of the medical tourism process for members interested in receiving care overseas.”

About Healthbase:

Healthbase is a one-stop source for global medical and dental choices, connecting patients to internationally accredited providers in 14 countries including India, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Turkey, Panama, Costa Rica and Mexico. Healthbase caters to individual consumers, self-funded businesses, insurers, benefit consultants, third party administrators and those using Consumer Directed Healthcare Plans (CDHPs) or voluntary benefit plans. More information at http://www.healthbase.com.

About WellPoint, Inc.:

WellPoint, Inc. is the largest health benefits company in terms of medical membership in the United States. WellPoint is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and serves its members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), Wisconsin; and through UniCare. Additional information about WellPoint is available at http://www.wellpoint.com.

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Healthbase has helped an uninsured American patient get double hip resurfacing surgeries in India. The high cost of Birmingham hip resurfacing surgery in the United States plus the lack of expertise in this procedure in the country continues to drive scores of Americans to India.

Nov. 21, 2008, Boston, MA. Healthbase Online Inc., an award-winning medical tourism facilitator based in Boston, Massachusetts, helps an Arizona-based former ballet dancer treat her hip osteoarthritis in India. 53-year old Katharine Frey who had arthritis in both her hips traveled to Apollo Hospitals, Chennai to have her hips resurfaced and availed of the 85% discount on the cost of the surgery.

“I have appreciated everything we have experienced and received at the Apollo Hospitals . Everyone has been very kind, supportive and helpful,” says Katharine after her hip resurfacing surgery last winter. She was so happy with the quality of care she received at her overseas hospital that she went back a few months later to have her second hip resurfaced.

Being uninsured, the $60,000 required to have a single hip resurfaced in the US seemed out of reach for Katharine. This led her into researching her other option – surgery overseas – and contacting Healthbase who coordinated both her surgeries in India for $8,000 each. The price included doctor’s fees, physical therapy and a week in the hospital.

According to Saroja Mohanasundaram, CEO of Healthbase , “Our clients prefer going abroad for Birmingham hip resurfacing because it is a fairly new procedure in the US but has been in use, say, in India, for many years. Being a major procedure it demands years of practice on the surgeon’s part to gain proficiency. The fact that Katharine went back to have her other hip resurfaced in India speaks volumes about the high level of satisfaction with our service and that of our partner hospitals and surgeons.”

Katharine Frey taking off on a paragliding flight just weeks after her hip resurfaicng surgery in India
Katharine Frey taking off on a paragliding flight just weeks after her hip resurfacing surgery in India

Katharine returned to work merely two and a half weeks post operation and to teaching ballet twenty days post operation. Katharine actively participates in swimming, yoga, hiking, paragliding, and cross-country road trips. “She has no pain in her hips and is moving and functioning like a normal human. I am so grateful and am enjoying watching Katharine return to life,” remarks Scott Martin, Katharine’s husband.

Katharine was operated upon by Dr. Vijay Bose and his team. Dr. Bose, a specialist in Birmingham Hip Resurfacing, Joint Replacement and Sports Medicine, has over a thousand BHR surgeries under his belt.
“Beyond the cost savings, the attention given was remarkable. Dr. Bose and his qualified staff will always be remembered for this,” adds Katharine.

Impressed by the high quality of care in India, even Scott, who accompanied Katharine to India addressed some of his periodontal issues through dental scaling and crowns at Apollo Hospitals while Katharine recuperated after her second Birmingham hip resurfacing surgery.

“It has been a positive life changing process for both of us. Thank you, Healthbase, for being so receptive, supportive and professional,” acknowledge Katharine and Scott.

Healthbase connects patients from across the globe to health care facilities in India, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, Philippines, Turkey, Belgium, Hungary, Costa Rica, Panama, Brazil, Mexico and United States. Healthbase has over 45 providers on its network.

About Healthbase Online Inc.:

Healthbase, an award-winning Boston-based medical tourism and dental tourism facilitator, is a one-stop source for global medical and dental choices, connecting patients to leading healthcare providers around the world. Healthbase coordinates over 200 procedures in various categories like orthopedic, spinal , cardiac, bariatric, urology , oncology , dental , cosmetic and general surgery . Some of the common procedures offered are Birmingham hip resurfacing , total hip replacement , knee replacement , ACL repair , rotator cuff surgery , spinal fusion , spinal disk replacement, heart bypass surgery , lap band , gastric bypass , cancer treatment , liposuction, dental implants, crowns, bridges, etc. for a fraction of the cost in the US with equal or superior outcomes. Healthbase’s partner healthcare facilities are located in Thailand, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Turkey, Belgium, Hungary, Costa Rica, Panama, Brazil, Mexico and USA, and are expanding to Canada, UK, Jordan, Taiwan, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, El Salvador and Guatemala. To ensure that patients receive the best care possible, Healthbase works mainly with hospitals that have international accreditations like JCI, JCAHO and ISO. Healthbase caters to the needs of individual consumers, self-funded businesses, insurance carriers, benefit consultants, insurance agents, and third party administrators seeking affordable medical travel and dental travel options. To learn more, call 1-888-691-4584, email info.hb @ healthbase.com or visit http://www.healthbase.com.

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