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Quality Hospitals / Specialists that Accept American Insurance

Good Day

I require neck and back surgery which will require that the doctor replace/stabilise the damaged disks and bone.  I am aware that I can get these surgeries done in the states, but would like to look at options outside of the U.S. (especially since my family and I intend to relocate).

Colombia was an area we were considering and felt that perhaps it may be a good opportunity to check out the country while I am convalescing (which depending on the procedures used could be a long process).

I was wondering if anyone had any experience in dealing with orthopaedic and neurosurgeons whom they felt were good surgeons and provided quality service.  This is pretty serious stuff so I thought getting some feedback here would be better than just looking at adverts on the internet.  I do plan to do my due diligence, but referrals would help weed out the bad docs with good adverts.

I have a a small child so I was hoping to perhaps rent a house that has a yard for my family (which includes pets) while I recover.  Doesn't have to be large cities like Bogota or Medellin. We can travel to where ever the doctor is.

Appreciate any insight any of you can provide.

Dear Thinking It Over,

Give strong consideration to having your surgeries done in the States .. and plan on convalescing there without international travel.

Renting a house in Colombia and traveling around meantime .. while convalescing and parenting -- it's all a bit much.  And by 'a bit much'. I mean 'way too much'.

The language barrier could be of special importance in your case, since medical issues are involved.  Yes, there are English-speaking doctors and nurses here.  But -- given a choice, which you apparently have -- I'd want to handle all post-op issues with medical professionals for whom English is the primary language.

G*d forbid there were any complications during or after the surgeries and you had to return to the U.S. for care, there could be massive headaches for your family in dealing with the situation.

Don't risk your health going forward .. by trying to overdo it in a foreign country with which you are not yet familiar.

-----

Osage Archer, are you following this?

cccmedia in Medellín

ThinkingItOver,  I would agree with everything cccmedia has written.

I speak fluent Spanish, my wife is Colombian, and I have her numerous family as a support system when we go there.  I feel like a fish swimming in sweet water in Colombia, even though I still have much to learn.  But I would not attempt what you are describing, rightly, as serious stuff. 

Just my opinion, get the operations done in the US and convalesce there until it is safe to travel.

The medical care aspect aside, which is plenty, you could find it difficult to rent a house with a yard in a place where you could be very safe, while not speaking much of the language if any.  Houses in cities are mostly built literally right up against one another and typically have a postage-stamp size yard compared to houses in the US, if any at all.  Houses in the country may have larger yards but generally are not and cannot be as secure.  Many expats find that apartments offer greater security both when at home and traveling, since many are in guarded, gated, restricted-access areas and many have common areas for recreation that are safe.

ThinkingItOver :

Colombia was an area we were considering and felt that perhaps it may be a good opportunity to check out the country while I am convalescing (which depending on the procedures used could be a long process).

There is a glimmer of hope underlying your question.  ;)

Namely, you might redirect your thinking to the growing practice of persons traveling elsewhere for expensive surgeries.  Sometimes called "medical tourism" I think it's more dollars and cents and not zip-lining in Costa Rica with a bad back.  Insurers won't officially cover the cost, but companies do exist to assist in these arrangements, including negotiations with your insurer to contribute.  If your insurer sees a $50,000 hip replacement bill coming down the pike, it's more willing to pay $10,000 towards your surgery in Singapore.  If it's convinced it's on the hook for $100,000 in costs for your back surgery and you're willing to travel elsewhere to have it done for a lot less, I bet they listen.  Medical tourism sponsors can arrange air fare, lodging and transportation and even English speaking representatives to work with you and the medical team.  Be careful - they are prone to referring you to countries and healthcare providers they have arrangements with (READ:  $$$).

The most often cited countries in our part of the world would include Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil and Panama (which, for example, has a Johns Hopkins affiliated hospital in Panama City).  Other parts of the world - India, Thailand and Singapore are way up the lists and probably the best all-around destinations.  I have never seen Colombia on any such list.  Keep in mind, some countries specialize more on cosmetic surgery than others.  Do your research.  One may go to Brazil for a boob job but not back surgery. You'll learn about international certifications of healthcare facilities and who works with whom. 

So, flip your thinking and worry about your back first, where you want to visit a distant second.

Greetings cccmedia, OsageArcher and SawMan
I appreciate your replies,  My wife and I have been discussing the very things all of you have stated in your replies.

There is definitely a lot to consider the aspect of possible complications. I guess I was attempting to kill two birds with one stone, given the current climate of things in the states--Just don't want to get stuck here --the bases are loaded and I don't want to have to slide to home base.  Wouldn't be too fun with a bad back

I spent time with my parents in San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato Mx. That was over 20 years ago and I was a kid. So my Spanish is not too bad. Medical Spanish is a different animal though.  I guess I wanted to give my child the same experiences I had growing up. I was also thinking finding a place with a lower cost of living would allow us to hire help out

SawMan:  We actually found a couple of Medical Tourism Websites and sent some feelers out.  I have full coverage, but I am sure if the company can save money --they would be all for it. Thailand has pretty good medical facilities and I have friends of family who are there--It's just so far.  I didn't know about Johns Hopkins having an affiliate in Panama. Thanks for the info.


My wife and I do have a lot to consider. I can't let my desire for leaving the states over ride the logic as it relates to my health.

My wife and I do appreciate all of your input.  It really helps slow down the circular thinking,

Best,
ThinkingItOver

Hi Thinking it Over,
I can understand your desire to seek care elsewhere TIO. In 2006 I was treated at Bumrungrad hospital in Bangkok after an accident traveling in China and I vowed to, if possible, leave the US should I ever need care again. To be honest with you I don't trust our system as much as I do the Thai system. Too many people die every year in the US from mistakes and secondary infections. At Bumrungrad, the care was very prompt and professional. All the doctors I saw spoke English fluently. It was out of pocket affordable as well. They have a website for setting up appointments and estimating the cost. Having said that, I met a young American in Medellin just three months ago who traveled here specifically to have her hips replaced and she told me that she was very impressed with the level of care. Medellin has, I believe, 4 of the top rated hospitals in Colombia. I would recommend if you do go abroad for care that you stick close to the bigger cities. Not only will the care be much better but the infrastructure will will make getting around easier. Most secure apartment complexes are set up for children as well with pools, playgrounds and sometimes activity rooms. I am in the process of buying a large apartment in a municipality close to Medellin, on the metro line and 20 minutes from the center. I will have it furnished and ready to move in before I return to the states in Sept. it is 3000 sq ft. I was going to leave it empty until Dec. but let me know if you decide to come here for care. I could probably help you out, if not with a place to stay then with researching the hospital system here. I need to know this information too since I plan to live here half the year.
     Also Bumrungrad Hospital is covered by BlueCross/Blue Shield. One of the founders was a doctor from South Carolina and it was one of the first to be covered by American insurance.
Ciao, Landstryker

Landstryker :

In 2006 I was treated at Bumrungrad hospital in Bangkok after an accident traveling in China and I vowed to, if possible, leave the US should I ever need care again. To be honest with you I don't trust our system as much as I do the Thai system. Too many people die every year in the US from mistakes and secondary infections. At Bumrungrad, the care was very prompt and professional. All the doctors I saw spoke English fluently. It was out of pocket affordable as well.

I also had a positive experience at Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok.  In 2012, a doctor there performed a minor outpatient surgical removal of a growth inside the mouth area.  The removal was 'clean' and there were no post-op problems.

However, I would not return to Thailand for medical attention .. and I do not recommend it in this case.

1.  My trips to Thailand via air travel (from the U.S.) typically involved about 24-hours on planes, including making connections.  That's challenging enough for a healthy person, potentially far more challenging for someone whose health is compromised.  For some, getting adequate sleep in the air is an important issue in considering long overseas flights.

2.  Flying to Thailand from North America is expensive compared to a trip to Colombia, the closest South American country to the U.S. mainland.  The expense is multiplied when dependents are also traveling, not to mention pets.

3.  If complications arise and a return to the U.S. is necessary earlier than expected, health and financial factors can get tricky.

cccmedia in Medellín

Good points all.

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