Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hip surgery in India? Insurance may pay

PlanetHospital was featured in the article Hip Surgery in India? Insurance may pay on

Top-notch care, a fraction of the cost That’s certainly been the case for Mason, 43, whose $20,000 body lift in Panama last July included about $7,500 for surgery to remove a large flap of skin from her abdomen, a procedure called a panniculectomy. Because the excess flesh led to potentially dangerous skin infections, the surgery was deemed a medically necessary procedure, one that could be covered by her federal Blue Cross health insurance plan. 

Mason paid the bill herself for the rest of the surgery, including breast augmentation and thigh lifts. Because her surgeries would have totaled $50,000 to $75,000 back home, she contracted with Planet Hospital, a California-based medical tourism service, to research the alternatives abroad.

Planet Hospital, which also arranged care for Ryerson and Davies, has been offering medical tourism services since 2002. Of the nearly 2,000 patients they've served since  2006, nearly three dozen have had some or all of their care covered by insurance, said Rudy Rupak, president and founder.

“It’s outrageous here, the cost of medical care,” Mason said. Additionally, many U.S. doctors seem to have forgotten that they’re providing a service, added Mason, who described one plastic surgeon she interviewed as “an egotistical ass.” 

Not so with Dr. Louis Picard-Ami, a Florida-certified plastic surgeon who also practices in Panama. After checking out his credentials and the hospital’s safety record, Mason decided to go ahead with the surgery.

Not only was Picard-Ami technically proficient, he was kind and the amenities were luxurious, said Mason. Her hospital room was as lavish as any elegant hotel suite and her care included round-the-clock services of a private nurse.

“I just think that others need to be aware that they are able to have a safe procedure done out of the country for a price at a third the cost,” she said.

Ryerson, 61, said her private Blue Cross plan paid 80 percent of a $7,000 hip resurfacing surgery in Chennai, India, that would have been about $55,000 in the U.S. — if she could get it at all.
In 2006, the hip resurfacing device necessary for her surgery had just been approved for U.S. use by the federal Food and Drug Administration and not many domestic doctors had experience with it. Dr. Vijay Bose, her U.K.-certified surgeon in India, had performed the surgery more than 1,100 times.
“Doctors here didn’t know what they didn’t know and I didn’t want to be a guinea pig," she said.
While she was there, Ryerson also had cosmetic surgery and dental work done at her own expense.

 Read the full article here:


Monday, April 15, 2013

Shalom Israel

I am 11 countries away from reaching the “Century Club”, this a group of us who have visited at least a 100 countries in their lifetime (and a layover does not count), now medical tourism has helped me visit many of these amazing places and it is because of this that people ask me what is my favorite country to visit.  That’s a tough question to answer because there are so many.  Until my altercation with a crazy street vendor from Patpong, Thailand was on that list, Kochi was so tranquil, and I can’t get enough of Dubai, but I now have to say I am really fascinated by Israel, it definitely ranks as one of my favorite places to visit and I intend to visit often.  I felt safe there (interesting fact that the NRA might use in their arsenal -- the reason crimes, thefts, and rapes are so low in Israel is because most everyone is either armed or ex-military) and the people were incredibly warm without any interest in ones pocketbook.  Geoff and I were walking back from our Israeli Surrogacy conference, Men Having Babies, and we were clearly disoriented (and jet lagged), and since it was shabbat there was not a taxi to be found that easily. 

Two young guys wearing orthodox black approached us and asked if we were lost.   Normally, we here in the US would probably have our guard up but we decided to trust them and these guys literally walked us to our hotel even if it was out of their way.  We learned so much about them and Israel in twenty minutes.  They were studying in a Rabbinical University, but were planning on going on to study law, one of them was already accepted to Yale Law!   They had no idea that Israel attracts close to half a million Russian medical tourists, or that gays could have babies through surrogacy in Israel – which were the reasons we were there.

Earlier that day, we went to the Assuta Hospital in Tel Aviv and visited a center that did 11,000 IVF cycles in one year.  They also have world class spine and colo-rectal surgeons.  Very fascinating.  We look forward to bringing them to our network this quarter. 

The Gay Lesbian Center in Tel Aviv was such a friendly and cool place.  While we clear stuck out as non-Israeli and straight, they did what they could to make us feel welcome.  Just around the corner was a sandwich shop in a tin shack.  Since Geoff and I are adventurous foodies, we gave it a go and OMFG this was one of the best sandwiches and salads I have ever had; and it was chased by KILLER DELICIOUS oatmeal cookies.  Being at this event was remarkably fortuitous for us because when we arrived several gay couples were shell-shocked by the fact that India no longer offered surrogacy for gays (to be honest, I am also puzzled, this dumbass move by India was like an elephant dart in the face of logic).  While there were a few American companies offering US surrogacy and a few who offered India, we were the only ones to offer SURROGACY IN MEXICO and the attendees were thrilled but they found it too good to be true but when we showed them the by-laws and articles regarding Mexican surrogates and egg donors, there was less anxiety.  The only drawback for the Israelis when it comes to surrogacy is post-natal emergencies.  For an American or Canadian, if ones surrogate-delivered baby got sick and sent to neo-natal intensive care then all they have to do is pay out of pocket and get reimbursed by their insurance when they get home.  But not so in Israel.  If an Israeli couple decide to do surrogacy and their baby becomes ill, Israeli public health care will not pay for the baby’s care. I am going to have to find a solution for that. 

The Men Having Babies Conference in Israel was a great success for us because we left Israel with two clients on board and we expect about 10 more to follow in the next three months.  We are planning on bringing the surrogacy attorney from Israel that was attending the conference so that she can unbiasedly confirm that Mexico is not “too good to be true” for surrogacy but rather PERFECT for surrogacy!

On the last day of our Israeli trip we decided to visit Jerusalem.  What a magical place!  I was humbled to walk in a place that was holy to three religions (wish Buddha visited here too when he could have just to mix things up a little more).  It was interesting to walk where Jesus walked, was crucified (you can put your hand down the actual hole) and born (Bethlehem being adjacent).  We went to the Wailing Wall where Jews came to pray and leave wishes (Fortune Cookie manufacturers take note!).  Geoff described it as a Jewish Mecca.  I didn’t realise it at first but I was wearing a “Pink Floyd the Wall” hoodie at the wall.  How coincidental is that eh?  And in the tchotchke caverns the Imam’s call to prayers echoed beautifully and magically.

We passed by spice salesmen who were smoking over their wares (awesome!), and when we saw the sign for the “Emperor of Shawarma” well we just HAD TO stop and eat there.  The "emperor" chain smoked as he rolled the goat kababs in his sweaty nose-pickin hand, occasionally stopping to wipe those very hands on his shirt which doubled as an apron.  His son wiped utensils with newspapers, and Geoff and I had that “oh shit” moment and contemplated what the public restrooms might be like here.  However when the food came we were blown away by how good it was.  Like I said earlier we are adventurous foodies.  We know that the risk of consuming this street-side food would be the certainty of nausea and the squirts but when the food is this good, the risk is worth it.  While in Jerusalem two potential clients contacted us, they wanted to meet us to discuss going forward with the surrogacy.  Wow!
And so we cut our visit to Jerusalem short, I stocked up on Dead Sea products for all the women in my life and their friends, and then proceeded to meet three clients back.  Two for surrogacy and one for a kidney procedure.  I can't wait to return to this magical place.