Company Promises Faster Access To Medical Care & Vacation Outside Canada Monday August 14, 2006 No one will ever equate having an operation with taking a vacation, but what if you could try the latter in order to make the former happen faster? That's the theory behind "Surgical Tourism", a facility that bypasses the rules of the Canada Health Act by letting patients have their operations performed according to Canadian standards but in a luxury and exotic location like India. It sounds like a long way to go. But when you're in pain or in a hurry, it may be your only choice.
Jeff Clarke knows that all too well. He's waited three years for surgery on his spine from an old construction accident. The pain has made it almost impossible for him to go for a walk, pick up his child or even try a bike ride with his kids.
For $20,000, he can shrink his wait time to just a week and be treated like a king while he's at it.
"Surgical Tourism" puts its clients in five star resorts while they're recuperating and gives them access to vacation-like services they'd never find in any hospital.
The 33-year-old father knows it's expensive, but believes you can't put a price on your own health or your own peace of mind.
"It's sickening having to wait around here for one to two years even to find out if you're going to have it done or not," he complains. "So I mean if I can go out of country like a lot of people are doing to get this done, it's a lot better than waiting."
Leaving Canada to expedite surgery or reduce waiting times isn't new. But this company goes beyond that by targeting those who simply can't or won't wait any longer and are trying to make the best of a terrible experience.
The U.S. surgeries are done in Washington state. But those who really want an exotic operation - and some say, a cheaper one - should head to several of the participating hospitals overseas.
"The majority of the stuff is done in India, mainly because of the cost," reveals the firm's Yasmin Fayeed. "The cost in India is at least 50 percent less than the cost in the U.S., so people choose."
And there are more destinations to come. "We are adding options like Singapore, China, Belgium and other places as well," she confirms.
The idea of such a financial 'operation' has left the federal government feeling sick. Health Minister Tony Clement suggests the business won't last because it's too expensive and the Tories own "Wait Times Guarantee" policy will render it redundant.
"For us to even think about looking at other areas is simply ridiculous," he contends.
But when asked when that guarantee would finally kick in for Canadians, Clement responded "you'll be hearing more in the future." Then he walked away.
And he likely wasn't headed for either the U.S. or India.
The B.C.-based company guarantees it maintains the surgical standards required in Canada and responds it wouldn't be making money if people weren't interested in using its services.
Here's an overview about what Surgical Tourism does.
Consultations Surgical Tourism vows to get you a consultation with a specialist with almost no waiting. It compares an average 4- 6 week wait into a 7-10 day pause. And it promises test results will be back within 24-36 hours. Procedures Performed Among the operations they promise meet all the standards of care: Medical Procedures
Cardiothoracic surgery including valve replacements and vascular surgery
Orthopedics, including hip & knee replacements
Neurosurgery including brain tumours, Epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis and movement disorders
Cosmetic surgery including brow (forehead) lift, facelifts, liposuction, nose surgery, breast augmentation or reduction, tummy tucks and penile enhancement.
Dental procedures including tooth whitening, jaw surgery, root canals and correction of irregular teeth.
They also promise to provide post surgical care, ranging from housekeeping and laundry to live-in help if it's needed.
So how much will all this medical pampering cost you? The people behind the concept claim it depends on the procedure you want or need, but vow it's far less in India, because of lower labour and management costs. But getting there adds to the bill.
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