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View Full Version : Would you consider travelling abroad for your surgery?



JenniferG
12-10-2009, 02:25 PM
I was pointed to this site by someone on another forum and was wondering if this might be a viable option for those having insurance problems preventing their surgery.

http://www.globalscoliosis.com/

I know of a couple of Australians who've flown to Thailand and Malaysia to have dental and elective surgery at a fraction of the cost here in Australia. Both were happy with their treatment. I realise scoliosis surgery is quite a different kettle of fish.

Anybody have information/experience with this company?

txmarinemom
12-10-2009, 03:24 PM
Oh, Jen ... this scares me on all kinds of levels.

I know fusion surgery is STOOPID expensive, and feel so awful for people like Pilar who need surgery and are stuck because they're uninsured.

Before I say anything else, there is NO reason for any child in the US (under 19) to travel abroad for surgery as long as Shriners (http://www.shrinershq.org/Hospitals/Main/)and Texas Scottish Rite (http://www.tsrhc.org/becoming-a-patient.htm) hospitals exist.

For an uninsured adult, I can't argue it wouldn't MAYBE warrant *investigation* (that's as far as I can stretch) under dire circumstances (i.e., imminent death, impending paralysis).

For an insured adult, $31,000 is far above what nsured Americans I know have paid for fusion. I think my out of pocket cost was $3,000 USD when it was all said and done.

The prix fixe surgery "package" disturbs me: Comparing my lil' posterior fusion to something like TiEd's, or Singer's, or even Trulyaries 3rd revision (and that's a short list!) just isn't realistic.

I'm extremely uneasy as I review their surgeons, with accreditations that include "Attended more than 12 symposiums and courses of his specialty". I'm wondering how that's significant. Another listed surgeon, although a member of the North American Spine Society is also a member of the Japanese Society for Surgery of the Hand. While I'm guessing both memberships carry some prestige, it makes him sound confused about his specialty.

When I sought a surgeon, my #1 requirement was not simply an SRS surgeon (=> 20% of practice focus on spinal deformity), I wanted one who did *nothing* but scoliosis surgery. Hanson does handle degenerative conditions, but I'm fairly certain it's limited to the scope of those resulting from conditions like scoliosis.

The facilities themselves, and the ancillary services (particularly anesthesia) concern me. I'm loathe to visit a hospital in the US that doesn't rate highly, and I just don't know how you could obtain accurate information about somewhere out of country. Who oversees them? What regulatory body sets - and enforces - their standards of care?

Overall, my biggest fear is that you only get ONE chance to do it right the first time. What if they don't?

I realize that's a question probably in the back of every surgical patient under the best of circumstances, but we CAN minimize risk/increase chances of success. Bargain shopping just seems contraindicated.

Regards,
Pam

Jimbo
12-10-2009, 07:03 PM
Maybe one would consider this when back surgeries are as straight forward as dental work, but untill then, I would consider this a last resort. But for some people, this may be there only hope of getting surgery.

I asked my surgeon about these "medical holidays" for back surgery and he said "NEVER"!

JenniferG
12-10-2009, 07:25 PM
Thanks for your input Pam and Jimbo. I feel so badly that there are people who need the surgery and cannot have it for reasons of insurance. It's a sad, bad situation.

Perhaps in years to come, this type of service might become a viable option as medicine in first world countries becomes priced out of reach and standards, facilities and skills in developing nations improve?

txmarinemom
12-10-2009, 07:26 PM
I asked my surgeon about these "medical holidays" for back surgery and he said "NEVER"!

People are doing them more and more frequently for plastic surgery (particularly Brazil). Look at http://www.cosmeticvacations.com/ (http://www.cosmeticvacations.com/) and tell me that's not bizarre.

It was just a matter of time before the industry verged into medically necessary surgeries. Unfortunately, the state of the economy will probably send some people their way.

It seems to me, if a person could drum up the $31,000 USD asking price - or has sufficient credit for medical financing - they could FIND a reputable US surgeon who'd accept that amount if they were motivated enough. Maybe not their first choice surgeon, but still ...

debbei
12-10-2009, 07:30 PM
I agree with Pam. I wanted the best scoliosis surgeon that I could find. My insurance last year was fantastic, and I only ended up paying about $500. But if the surgeon that I decided I wanted was not covered by my insurance, my husband (bless his heart) said that we would cash in our retirement savings.

I feel terrible for people who have to make really tough choices like this.

titaniumed
12-10-2009, 07:42 PM
Hi Jen

There are a whole host of issues that need to be addressed with this. Where do I start? Tough decisions?

The first thing is the website. The FIRST word they use is the word "today" As if the sale will be over tomorrow. That's fine if you are buying tires or cheap furniture.

The next thing is, "Don't wait any longer"
Making that decision to have serious surgery is the most difficult decision of your life. I think I will stop everything and put my trust on a marketing sales vampire, who wants to send me to Timbuktu.

"Stop scoliosis before its too late" Why? because the sale ends at midnight?

Do these Doctors look at this stuff, or is it made up??? And the hospitals? Hard to believe isn't it?
Ok, now we established that the website was written by an idiot. I will stop.
================================================== ======================================

I do not doubt that there are great surgeons worldwide, but connecting and communicating and logistics will make things difficult.

Another thing that concerns me is the fact that you have no legal rights as a foreigner, in a foreign country.

If you were paralyzed overseas, and came home and applied for disability, that would be interesting...........

Scoliosis surgery is a topic that needs careful thought. The last thing that anyone needs is some company that's ONLY concerned about the bottom line.

Its a shame.

Ed

pilar
12-10-2009, 07:47 PM
Yeah... I don't think this is a choice for me. It's kind of scary. Anyways, I don't have that kind of money. I could've have my surgery done with DR. Pashman for 20,000 dollars out of pocket and my insurance would have taken care of the rest, but I don't that kind of money anyways....
Thanks for the info though.
Pilar

txmarinemom
12-10-2009, 09:55 PM
Pilar,

Pashman (and there are patients who swear by him) is not known for doing anything that resembles surgery out of the goodness of his heart. He's known for being a bit of a show pony.

I know people who've seen him for other opinions, and the typical report goes something like "OMG ... he's so 'with it'!", followed by "OMG ... he ~thinks~ he's GOD!".

Come to think of it, I don't recall seeing anyone here who's used him lately ... :confused:

I can't tell from your other posts ... is he the only surgeon you consulted? I'm wondering, if so, if another surgeon (less about the glitz) might be able (or more willing) to help you.

A $20,000 co-pay to a surgeon is NOT a great deal. I went in network, but even my out of network was "only" $10K - had I gone that route.

Regards,
Pam

LindaRacine
12-10-2009, 10:11 PM
Two things...

First, I think Shriner's has stopped taking patients from outside the U.S.

Second, Dr. Boachie's foundation FOCOS, operates in Ghana, Barbados, Sierra Leone, and Trinidad at no cost to patients. If someone wants to go to one of those areas from abroad, you can travel to Ghana and have surgery for a relatively small fee. If you're interested:

# Contact Ghana clinic
(+233 21 512123 or +233 21 512256)
# Schedule an appointment with Dr. J. Boatey, Head of Spine
# If you have x-rays, imaging studies can be sent by email.
# The appointment staff will provide associated cost for consultations.

--Linda

Pooka1
12-10-2009, 10:21 PM
First, I think Shriner's has stopped taking patients from outside the U.S.


Linda, a girl on SSo who lives in the UK was just accepted at Shriners - Salt Lake City for revision/extension surgery I am guessing. So they are still doing that. This girl had a double curve but they only fused the top curve. She has developed a myriad of problems in the lumbar, presumably because that curve was structural also.

We have kids here with equal upper and lower curves who only get the top one fused. When the curves are both large and equal, aren't they both always structural? Almost always? Couldn't this girl's lumbar decompensation have been predicted from a mile away?

tonibunny
12-10-2009, 10:26 PM
I'm afraid that girl actually lives in the US, and her original surgery was done in the US too. I don't want to say much about her case here without her permission but I agree with you and I'm really glad that she's going to be seen at Shriners, she deserves some decent care.

Pooka1
12-10-2009, 10:32 PM
I'm afraid that girl actually lives in the US, and her original surgery was done in the US too. I don't want to say much about her case here without her permission but I agree with you and I'm really glad that she's going to be seen at Shriners, she deserves some decent care.

Really???????????

I thought she was in the UK!

Yes I COMPLETELY agree she needs someone to show some interest in her case. She needs help yesterday in my opinion.

LindaRacine
12-10-2009, 10:37 PM
Linda, a girl on SSo who lives in the UK was just accepted at Shriners - Salt Lake City for revision/extension surgery I am guessing. So they are still doing that. This girl had a double curve but they only fused the top curve. She has developed a myriad of problems in the lumbar, presumably because that curve was structural also.

We have kids here with equal upper and lower curves who only get the top one fused. When the curves are both large and equal, aren't they both always structural? Almost always? Couldn't this girl's lumbar decompensation have been predicted from a mile away?
Good to know. Perhaps it's only certain Shriner's locations that aren't accepting patients from outside the U.S.

Pooka1
12-10-2009, 10:39 PM
Good to know. Perhaps it's only certain Shriner's locations that aren't accepting patients from outside the U.S.

No Linda I was wrong. Toibunny said she actually lives in the US.

txmarinemom
12-11-2009, 06:47 AM
Two things...

First, I think Shriner's has stopped taking patients from outside the U.S.

Second, Dr. Boachie's foundation FOCOS, operates in Ghana, Barbados, Sierra Leone, and Trinidad at no cost to patients. If someone wants to go to one of those areas from abroad, you can travel to Ghana and have surgery for a relatively small fee. If you're interested:

# Contact Ghana clinic
(+233 21 512123 or +233 21 512256)
# Schedule an appointment with Dr. J. Boatey, Head of Spine
# If you have x-rays, imaging studies can be sent by email.
# The appointment staff will provide associated cost for consultations.

--Linda

Did I miss something on Shriners, Linda? I don't see another post that mentions patients outside the US before your note they don't accept non-US patients: I was just saying there's no reason for US citizens under 19 to travel abroad with Shriners and TSRH. Maybe you were just clarifying since they did make exceptions to that in the past?

Re: FOCUS ...

I had no idea someone could travel to one of Boachie's locations and have surgery, but that's fantastic. Definitely something I'd consider as a patient, and definitely minus the usual "out of US" concerns.

Do you have any idea on the number of US patients that currently receive care this way, and what a "relatively small fee" amounts to?

Thanks for posting that ... GREAT info to have!

Regards,
Pam

mariaf
12-11-2009, 01:47 PM
Two things...

First, I think Shriner's has stopped taking patients from outside the U.S.



Hi Linda,

I don't know what, if anything, Shriners has adopted as their official policy regarding patients outside the U.S., but I do know a patient from Canada who was recently seen at Shriners in Philly.

Best regards,

hdugger
12-11-2009, 02:14 PM
Here's the info from their site:

"Application Procedures for Orthopaedic Care, Spinal Cord Rehabilitation, Cleft Lip and Palate Repair and Non-Emergency Burn Care
The service area of Shriners Hospitals for Children includes the United States (including Puerto Rico), Canada, the Republic of Panama and Mexico. As of April 2009, we are temporarily not accepting new patients residing outside of these areas. "

http://www.shrinershq.org/Admission/

LindaRacine
12-11-2009, 09:52 PM
Did I miss something on Shriners, Linda? I don't see another post that mentions patients outside the US before your note they don't accept non-US patients: I was just saying there's no reason for US citizens under 19 to travel abroad with Shriners and TSRH. Maybe you were just clarifying since they did make exceptions to that in the past?


Hi...

I made an assumption that the original poster was talking about someone outside of the U.S., since she is Australian, and was talking about Australians who went overseas for their surgeries.

--Linda