Author Maggi Grace talks about why she supports Medical Tourism.
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Since Howard Stub and I flew half way around the globe to get his heart fixed, I've been asked to speak to a number of groups beginning with the US Senates Committee on aging about the outsourcing of medical care. Well, I'm honored I kept wondering what could I possibly add to what people already know from the experts like you. But when I looked up the word expert, I found one root is from a French word for experience and I have had one. Another entry was from the Latin word Experitus, which means to try and trying is something I know how to do. In writing this book, I was trying to help more people than I could speak to each day via phone or email. Actually, when a woman invited me to speak in Ohio, she told me the story she heard from the 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate Dr. Maathai Wangari. This African woman told the story of a tiny humming bird fighting a raging forest fire by flitting back and forth dowsing the flames one drop of water at a time. When the other forest animals ridiculed the humming bird for this effort, saying just what good do you think that is going to do? The humming bird explained, I'm doing the best that I can. And so it is with this book. If my book gives 1% the confidence to demand something from their doctor, hospital or insurance company after being told no, if one person votes differently in our next election, if any of you gain additional insight into what a patient needs to make the decision to fly for medical treatment, and if my experience makes it even slightly easier for some patients to find the care they need when they need it, whether that is in Thailand, Costa Rica, New Delhi or Washington DC, I will consider the book as success. One interviewer asked me, so Maggi is 'State of The Heart' about love or about travel or about a medical condition or about the US and Indian healthcare systems? I said yes, it's my hope that it is all of these and also a bit about dependence and independence, caretaking and care giving, balances we must navigate throughout our lifetime and not just when we're critically ill. Many of you know at least the seed of this story from the media coverage over the past three years, that 9 months after I met Howard Stub, a 53 year old carpenter from Durham, North Carolina, we learnt that his mitral valve was broken. When his cardiologist explained the diagnosis, I explained that Howard had no health insurance. When she composed herself, she said, this is going to be staggering. Then she looked at me and she said, Maggi, you're going to have to be assertive, make an appointment with the CFO of the hospital. The CFO of our local hospital estimated the hospital bill alone for a 5 to 7 days stay would be $100,000 if there were no complications. The other charges anesthesiologist, surgeon, cardiologist, radiologist, the valve itself all billed separately would be an additional $100,000. They expected half upfront. I asked the CFO to let us pay the full amount that any insurance company pays when one of their own insured receives the heart surgery that Howard needed. He said they were not set up to compromise in that way because neither Howard nor I had an extra $100,000 or $200,000, I looked into alternatives. A few weeks later we flew to India. My book 'State of The Heart' is as Paul Harvey says, the rest of the story of how we chose Dr. Naresh Trehan, US trained cardiac surgeon of highest reputation, founder of Escorts Heart Institute in New Delhi, to fix Howard's heart. The US Senate asked in 2006, is the globalization of health care the answer to our health care crisis in the US? After hearing my story or reading my book, you might think it would have been easy for me to answer yes, but I do not think it is the answer. For many people traveling to Singapore or India is not an option. For just as many people, it is not the right choice. For most of us when we get sick or require a surgical procedure, we imagine being cared for by our own doctor in a familiar office or hosp