I limped around for two years on a hip that was bone on bone. I chose to go abroad for surgery because without insurance, I could not afford to have it done in the US. At that point, both of my hips hurt equally, so I planned on having both replaced, as long as I was traveling so far.
The health travel agency I selected suggested I go to Malaysia for surgery, because it is a country that is easy to get around in and has a high level of English proficiency. The flight from South Florida to Malaysia was a little uncomfortable. I walked the aisles a lot. Once I arrived in Penang, everyone I met was kind and caring. My hospital room was a suite. My girlfriend traveled to Malaysia and stayed in the hospital with me. My surgeon had a great sense of humor, assuring me that he knew how to replace a hip. After taking new x-rays, he told me I only needed one hip replaced. I greatly appreciated the honesty.
After one week in the hospital with physical therapy, I was released and taken next door to a five-star hotel for two weeks of healing. The doormen at the hotel kept a close eye on me. They pulled out my chairs, helped me up and down stairs, and arranged for rides to go sightseeing. I continued my physical therapy while I was staying in the hotel.
My girlfriend and I saw as much of the island of Penang as we could. We went to the malls, seashore, and night markets. We took a train ride up Penang Hill, overlooking the city of Georgetown.
My experience with medical tourism was a good one and had with no complications. The hospital sent me home with x-rays and paperwork on everything that was done in case I needed to see a doctor for any reason. My surgeon kept in touch with me for several months through email, making sure I was keeping up with my exercises. 18 months later, I am still doing well.
The best part of my experience was saving money. I spent a total of $11,000, a savings of about $30,000. Having an agency put the whole package together for me was great. They made it easy and didn’t miss a thing. After experiencing medical tourism, I would definitely go abroad for surgery again. It was a journey I will be talking about for years to come.
Last updated on 22 June 2011
Before Leaving the Hospital: Get All the Paperwork
Impatient to be gone, and often suffering the woozy side effects of surgery and post-operative pharmaceuticals, patients too often find themselves back at home later, missing important documents that could have more easily been obtained on site. So before you hightail it out of your hospital or clinic, be sure that you have all of your important documents.
Generally, larger hospitals provide complete medical documentation as part of the standard exit procedure. However, some smaller clinics may rely more on verbal instructions, and they are less likely to build and maintain a dossier on your case.