uninsured American


We all know the facts and the figures. About 46 to 47 million Americans are uninsured and with the economic recession not yet over, several more are expected to join the ranks.

The Congress is still debating over a national health care reform which no one knows will lead to what consequences. So, given the current state of affairs, the big question still looms – Who takes care of you when something major comes up? Or, worse yet, What happens if you are aging, start having health problems and no insurance wants to cover you even if you are willing to purchase the most expensive catastrophic policy?

NPR recently ran the story of a 58-year old uninsured American who landed himself into exactly this sort of a situation. Read on…

Fernando Arriola spends his days keeping track of four or five construction projects, and his nights praying for good health. The New Orleans home builder is one of the 46 million people in this country who don’t have health insurance.

Four years ago Arriola, 58, bought a friend’s contracting business, just as New Orleans was starting to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. He named it New Beginnings Enterprises.

“It was a new beginning for me; it was a new beginning for the city; it was a new beginning for a lot of people we were working with,” he says.

And business has been good. He does mostly residential work, like the quaint mother-in-law cottage in the Garden District where his crew is laying tile and putting on the finishing touches.

Making A Living, But Not Enough For Insurance

Arriola makes about $50,000 a year and says he enjoys working for himself. But what he’s missing is the comprehensive health coverage he had at his former job as a sales manager.

Ever since he’s been self-employed, Arriola has been on a health insurance roller coaster. Initially, he bought a standard policy with a $1,000 deductible to cover his family. Then, when business slowed down and money got tight, he decided to temporarily drop the coverage. When he tried to reinstate it, he could only afford a catastrophic plan.

“I was paying $900 a month for a $5,000 deductible that would cover nothing until I hit that $5,000. So I was paying in essence $15,000 before I had one penny covered. And that was too expensive,” Arriola says.

So he dropped that coverage, only to have second thoughts. And when he tried to get it back, he was denied even the expensive catastrophic policy. Arriola doesn’t know exactly why, but he acknowledges that he and his wife both have high blood pressure and are approaching 60.

“Insurance is nothing more than just a business. And they try to limit their liabilities. So where there’s an older person, they don’t want to cover it,” he says.

Aging Without Coverage

Maria Arriola doesn’t think it’s fair that after years of paying for coverage and not having many claims, now, when they are starting to have health problems, they can’t get insurance.

“There’s nothing you can do about that. As you get older things don’t work so well, so…” she says.

The Arriolas did buy a policy for their two daughters, ages 22 and 16. But Fernando and Maria are uninsured. They pay for doctor visits and prescriptions out of pocket.

If something major comes up, Arriola says he would leave the country for medical services. Arriola is a naturalized citizen and has lived in New Orleans since 1970. But last year, he traveled to his native Guatemala for arthroscopic knee surgery. It cost him less than $1,000.

“Over here [it] would cost me thousands. They have just as good of doctors as they have over here. Most of them graduated from here,” he says.

Not Waiting For Congress To Fix

As for the debate on Capitol Hill over health care reform, Arriola takes a businessman’s approach to the issue: Open up the marketplace, he says, and create a national playing field so consumers will have more options.

But he does not have faith that Congress will come up with a fix because of partisan politics. So, in the meantime, he’s working to do something locally as a member of the board of directors for the New Orleans Faith and Health Alliance. The group is trying to start a health clinic in unused classroom space at a midcity church. Patients would pay based on their income.

“The purpose is to be able to provide the working uninsured medical services. There is definitely a need. I’m a perfect example of it,” Arriola says.

The alliance hopes to start providing care this fall. Arriola plans to sign up. In the meantime, he prays that nothing serious happens. The way the system works now, he says, he’d have to experience a major calamity to get coverage.

“I would have to go into the hospital, I would have to lose my house, I will have to lose all my savings, lose everything for the government to be able to help me. So 40 years of work, 40 years of struggle has to come to nothing. I have to be totally destitute in order for me to be able to get some help.”

Arriola says he doesn’t want anybody to give him anything. He just wants to be able to afford health insurance.

“There has to be a way,” he says.
Source: NPR

For low cost high quality surgery abroad or discount medical services in the United States, call Healthbase at 1-617-418-3436.

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Medical Tourism is no longer restricted to outbound medical tourism i.e. Americans seeking care outside of the country. Domestic medical tourism is gathering pace as more and more Americans are now crossing state borders to take advantage of cheaper prices available for quality health care out-of-state. It’s amazing to know that the price differential on healthcare within the same country can be tremendous if only you take the trouble to shop for it.

Recently Healthbase partnered with many health care providers in several states within the United States. The prices on major procedures that these providers offer to Healthbase clients are as low as 10% of the prevailing cost of those procedures in other typical hospitals within the country. Read more about this partnership.

So how can some US providers offer such low rates?
Patients can avail of such low rates if they choose the one-pay option. AARP Bulletin Today recently covered the story of Rodney Larson, an uninsured Minnesota resident and a Healthbase customer who had his triple bypass surgery at a heart care hospital in Kansas.

According to the bulletin,

As a father to nine daughters, electrician Rodney Larson always looks for ways to cut costs. So in 2008 when he was told he needed triple bypass surgery – totaling $80,000 or more – he shopped around.

Rodney Larson traveled within the United States for heart surgery

Rodney Larson traveled within the United States for heart surgery.

Larson, 56, of Boyd, Minn., searched the Internet and found a hospital that would do the surgery for $13,200. The facility, Galichia Heart Hospital in Wichita, Kan., participates in a domestic medical tourism program run by Healthbase Online.

Located in Boston, Healthbase is one of a handful of companies reaching out to U.S. hospitals to provide specialty surgeries at much lower costs than traditional providers. The company also offers international medical tourism – in which patients travel abroad for procedures – but is finding a market for U.S. specialty hospitals.

Most patients who use medical tourism companies are uninsured and must pay upfront for procedures. Larson liked the one-pay option.

“They saved me a lot of money, but the point is, it was excellent care,” he says.

Source: AARP Bulletin Today

Available procedures
Most major procedures are available at discounted rates within the US through Healthbase. Procedures fall in the categories of cardiac, orthopedic, bariatric, spinal, etc.

Want to know if the procedure you need is available and how much it costs?

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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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