Medical Tourism in Argentina
Today our article, suggested by a reader, is about medical tourism here in Argentina. Medical tourism has been in the news lately. There seem to be providers popping up all over the world. There are tourist hospitals in India, Thailand, and the rest of Southeast Asia that have been doing a booming business the last few years catering to tourists.
South America is finally getting in on it as well. As soon as I stepped off the plane in Costa Rica, the airport was filled with ads -- in English -- for plastic surgery centers. For the same price as a nose job or a breast augmentation in the U.S., you could go to Costa Rica, get the same procedure, and recover in a 5 star resort with people waiting on you hand and foot. Sounds good to me. It appears there's at least one company in Argentina now that is catering to this market. Here's the comment from our reader.
I've started planning a trip to Buenos Aires. I'm going to get Lasik surgery and am using Plenitas. Are you familiar with the idea of "surgery touring"? I believe Europeans do it more than North Americans. Everybody I talk to thinks I'm crazy for going to South America for something like surgery and I'm tired of explaining that Buenos Aires is a first class city as sophisticated as New York, that it's the Paris of the New World, etc. I don't think I have anything to worry about; do you?
This is a very timely question. Just yesterday I signed up for a health plan with Hospital Alemán, which is within walking distance of my new apartment. For just $160 pesos per month (about $55 USD), you get a health plan similar to one in the U.S., but with no deductibles and no co-pays. There is also a 50% drug benefit as well. Quite simply, this is amazing. Clearly the private healthcare system here is doing something right. When I investigated HMOs in the U.S., I'd be paying $350 USD per month along with co-pays, obviously. I ultimately went with a high deductible PPO plan, since I'm not sick too often.
Even ignoring the exchange rate issue for one moment -- assuming the peso was 1:1 with the U.S. Dollar, the price would still be less than half of what you'd pay in the U.S. for insurance. That's pretty amazing if you ask me. The fact is, they have doctors here that come to your house when you're sick, so you don't have to get out of bed, go to some office, and wait there with all the other sick people and catch who knows what else. Whatever it is, they're doing something right.
Medical Tourism in Argentina
I have no experience with these medical tourism companies, but the fact is, I'm sure they're just marketing organizations. There is no hospital here called Plenitas. You might save yourself some money if you just came here and directly went to one of the better hospitals here (they all have country themes, i.e. the German Hospital, English Hospital, Swiss Hospital, etc.) and meet with the various doctors and choose one you are most comfortable with. All the hospitals have doctors that speak English. I don't know that it is necessary to go with one of these medical tourism companies.
In general, I think it is a great idea to have medical procedures done abroad. If I needed something done, I'm sure I'd do it here. It makes no sense to pay thousands and thousands out of pocket when you can take a 12 hour plane flight and pay less than half for the same procedure with the same level of quality. Unfortunately, most of the American public has been indoctrinated by the F.D.A. and the Federal Government to believe that medicine outside the borders of the U.S. is somehow "unsafe".
I especially get cracked up when I hear the government or the drug companies saying how they can't vouch for the safety of the drugs that are imported from Canada. For years drug companies have been relocating their factories outside U.S. borders to save on labor costs and their international factories are kept up to F.D.A. standards with regular inspections, etc. The only difference is whether they put a U.S. label on the bottle or a Canadian one. They just charge five times more for the U.S. bottle. They're all the same pills.
So, don't believe the lies, come to Buenos Aires, and check things out for yourself. You don't need some government "expert" who's on the payroll of the American medical establishment to tell you whether it is safe to do a procedure outside the country. Come here, talk to the doctors, look at the facilities yourself, and then make up your own mind. Make sure they're up to your standards and then you will be the one who decides whether to do the procedure or not.