Americans Too Busy to Notice a Medical Solution?

One of our Readers shared this compelling insight on Americans’ desire to remain distracted – even in the face of solving a medical conundrum.

I am fed up with American culture too… here’s the latest, which you’ll enjoy.

Last night I went out to eat by myself, sat at the restaurant bar.   The bar area was fairly crowded and looking around, I saw everyone playing with their mobile phones.  Even those seated at tables together were still alone with their phones.   This drives me crazy.

Preoccupation with cell phones?

A man, also dining alone, sat down next to me at the bar. He looked to be about 30.  Before he could reach for his phone, I said hello and we struck up a conversation. He said he was a doctor, working in the cardiology unit at a well-known local private hospital.

Ah, I told him, so maybe you can answer the medical question nobody’s been able to help me with.  What’s that, he asks?  I explain that I have all my medical needs attended to in Thailand, which he finds bizarre.  He is quite surprised when I tell him the medical facilities are world class.  “I thought it was pretty much third world over there,” he says.  No, it’s world class in many respects, I tell him.

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I proceed to explain that during a routine physical, it was discovered I have this heart condition called WPW Syndrome.  He says, “That’s a life threatening condition.  Have you had it taken care of?”  Well that brings me to my question.  In Thailand, they can tell me exactly what the surgical procedure will cost, but here I can’t get any hospital to give me even a rough estimate.

Tinkering with a ticker

So, that’s my question. If I wanted to have the surgery done at your hospital, what would it cost?  He admits he doesn’t rightly know… but why am I concerned – surely my insurance will cover most of the cost.

That’s my problem, I tell him, I don’t have insurance.  He says, “don’t you qualify for Medicare?”

(No, you little twerp… I’m not that old.  I don’t tell him that, but that’s what I’m thinking.)  I just say Medicare isn’t an option. I have to pay out of pocket.

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He says, “Well, if you pay out of pocket… Let’s see, you will need a hospital room for about 4 or 5 days, the anesthesiologist, the surgeon …” and he ticks off a few other items before conceding it’d likely cost north of $100,000.

Affordable world class treatment available in Thailand

That, I tell him, is the problem.  I can get the surgery done for a fraction of that in Thailand.

He says,  “I wouldn’t trust my heart to a surgeon in Thailand, I can tell you that.  What you should do is go to the emergency room at the county public hospital, complain of chest pains and they’ll admit you to their cardiology unit.  Then tell them you have WPW Syndrome. That’ll get their attention and you’ll be in the public-supported system.”

OK, thanks for the advice.

I mentioned this to a friend who had to go the public route at the public hospital for emergency surgery last summer and he strongly advised against doing that.  As he put it, “Going to County will give you a heart attack. You’re far better off in Thailand.”

At least he gets it… from personal experience.  Most Americans don’t get it at all.  They’re too busy being busy and playing with their phones.

Douglas Upshaw

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About Retire Early Lifestyle

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired three decades ago at the age of 38 and began traveling the world. As recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel, they have been interviewed about retirement issues by The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, The Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter, nationally syndicated radio talk shows and countless newspapers and TV shows nationally and worldwide. They wrote the popular books The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement (Your Simple Path to FIRE) and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.
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