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Would you care for a Gastric Bypass with your Ceviche?

Would you care for a Gastric Bypass with your Ceviche?

A while back,  I applied for a job in Medical Tourism. The job was from home, the medical tourism part was in Costa Rica (http://www.wisemds.com/) Sounded glam.  I heard back within a day, and was impressed that they sent an orientation video before scheduling the first interview. I really felt like this was my perfect mid life crisis career path – travel, helping people, exemplary customer service, 5 star experiences..  The Crowd Funding (community fundraising) part was cool, with bonus warm fuzzies for helping that person who can’t afford a hip replacement, for example,  with a surgery AND a post-operative mai-tai in the tropical breezes of San Jose Costa Rica. Here’s where it went awry for me –  (not verbatim as it’s teeeeeed-ious, but in essence:) – did you know that most people who have gastric bypass surgery need their kidney removed? – what a fantastic sales opportunity (!) Really? And add-ons such as dental surgery and botox really improve your earning potential (well not so bad I guess).

Where does one find recruits to fly to Costa Rica for surgery? I would think you would want to know that they for-sure need the intervention, and that they have investigated options and costing close to home? Answer: First you throw a party. Cool. Then, it’s suggested, you place newspaper add’s inviting people to be part of a medical trial offering 70% off the cost of treatment. What?! I didn’t get to the rest. Deceptive sales techniques annoy me when I want to get the free bottle of vitamins, but this? There was no medical trial – naughty use of semantics… nope, not for me.

But what about this Medical Tourism? .. got me thinking .. is it just another example of unpatriotic outsourcing, or does it provide a necessary service, wrapped up in a fancy package? I will admit, I avoid diagnostics here in the US as I’ve been burned by pre-existing illness before (including pregnancy and my daughter’s asthma). And if I suspected that a non-catastrophic, but major, medical issue was brewing, I’d be booking Qantas Flight 11 and getting my Aussie butt to the land down under.  So while I would say I support local, and object to outsourcing, this means I would engage in a form medical tourism myself.  Hmm. Perplexing.  I like to know where I stand philosophically on these kinds of things. So I passed it by a San Francisco Surgery Center Administrator.

Would she refer underinsured or financially strapped patients to a facility in Costa Rica? Yes, for sure, if she could be assured of the quality – for example if it were a Blue Cross/Blue Shield Center of Excellence. What about people who could afford the price in the US but want to have a vacation-surgery experience? Why not, she thought. The only unethical issue she could think of, is marketing to the general public where there is no guarantee that the patient needs the surgery package they are purchasing.

And so I guess, with no further pondering, I don’t overtly object to Medical Tourism from any perspective other than when infomercial style trickery is used.  This is presuming that there is no negative impact on the host country – such as black market organ (e.g. kidney) selling or theft, as has been reported in India and Thailand in the past (a whole other topic). And as for any kind of cosmetic surgery cocktail with some recovery time under a tree in Costa Rica? – no problem with that, even with a laparoscopic surgery chaser thrown in.

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