Health Travel for Alaskan Patients

Health Travel: a Booming Industry

According to Josef Woodman, author of Patients without Borders, health and medical travel is a fast developing industry with more than 150,000 people mainly Americans and Europeans, choosing health tourism in developing countries. Asian countries like Thailand, the Philippines, India, Malaysia, and Singapore are some of the most popular health travel destinations providing affordable medical packages that include major surgeries like heart and hip replacement as well as dental procedures. While these South Asian countries have some of the world’s best hospitals for hip replacement, South American countries like Argentina, Brazil, and Costa Rica are popular venues for cosmetic surgery. The idea of health travel and overseas medical treatment is growing because of the phenomenal price difference (one-tenth the cost of similar procedures in the US) and the quality of service at hospitals in these countries.

Cheaper Medical Packages in Thailand

Chuck Klemer from Alaska’s Denali region has a great success story to tell about medical tourism. Injured in a car crash 25 years ago, 48 year old Klemer suffered from chronic hip pain and was reduced to walking with the help of a cane. Hip replacement surgery in the US, he was told, would cost $40,000 and he had no health insurance to cover the expenses. Faced with the not too happy choices of going into debt or a life ridden with pain, Klemer chose heath travel and more affordable medical packages in Thailand. The country has some of the best hospitals for hip replacement in the world. The entire procedure along with a week long recovery vacation in Bangkok cost the Klemers just $14,000.

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Last year, Connie Faipeas of Anchorage also joined the growing hordes of Westerners who chose to save money through health travel and cheap medical packages in countries like Thailand. She had a complete physical (including blood examination, X-rays, mammogram, and pap smear) at Bumrungrad International Hospital in Thailand. Every year Jim and Lynne Minton from Anchorage visit this very same Bangkok hospital for physical and dental examinations that are prohibitively expensive in the US. Bumrungrad International Hospital treats more than 400,000 foreign patients from 150 countries, including 55,000 Americans every year. It is considered to be one of the best hospitals for hip replacement surgery in Thailand with doctors sometimes performing medical procedures not yet available in the US.

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