health care, road trips, tech talk, occasional rant

gettin ready to get fixed

This is a nuts and bolts update, with facts, numbers and links.  Many of you expressed interest in the gory details of what I’m doing, so here goes.

The very first hit on my google search for “overseas heart operation” was the same folks referenced in the CNN article (Jul 09 – actually not!  The CNN article references another company, but everything else is true!).  I clicked them, and as it turns out I clicked no further (unusual for me, I usually need to know that there’s not a better bargain out there somewhere :), because they’ve been very professional and helpful, and generally have had all the right answers when I need them.

I filled out the online form, and within a few hours I got a call from the nice nurse, Janet, who is now my handler (case manager).   She e-mailed me a PDF form just like the admissions form on a clipboard they give you at a real doctor’s office, and instructions for getting my records forwarded to them.

They handle all kinds of different procedures from cancer to cosmetic surgery.  For my heart thang they have doctors in:

  • New Delhi
  • Istanbul
  • Tijuana

Included in the mail were links to biographies of the doctors, video interviews, all the stuff one would want when contemplating stepping off a cliff into the unknown.

My initial reaction to Tijuana was of course icky gross, but then I thought – geez, I could stay with my friend Carlton in Encinitas, and just drive down there.  Then Janet told me that it costs about twice as much as the other two, so I X’d Tijuana off the list.  As you will see below, “twice as much” is a huge bargain compared to good ole America, but it’s still quite a large chunk of change to me, and way more than the cost of airfare and hotels to the other exotic locations.

I decided I just liked the idea of Istanbul better – all that history – Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, Mongols, Ottomans, on the very edge of Asia and Europe, straddling the straits between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, how could a history/geography junkie like me not go there?

It turns out the Anadolu Medical Center is affiliated with Johns Hopkins U.  It’s website was very comforting to me, since it was clear they are fully geared to us sensitive westerners … which reminds me, I need to figure out the Turkish equivalent of gringo, since that’s what I’ll be.

every morning one of each: yellow, big white, small white, two whites on the left, then in the evening: the two whites on the left

It took me a couple of weeks to get serious, but I eventually got my Reno medical group to forward my records.  The next day(!) Janet set me up with a phone interview with Dr Cicek (“sur-sic“… Turkish pronunciation is going to be a challenge).   He is the (evidently very eminent) physician who will perform the operation.

A clear pattern is emerging here – to the extent that this is taking some time, it is because I tend to fiddle around a week or so between major steps, because … that’s just what I do …  Every time I hit a milestone, Janet hits back within a matter of hours.  So I could’ve done this from first e-mail to getting on the plane in 2-3 weeks if I was so motivated, which I’m not.

Anyway, the interview went well, so Janet asked me when did I want to do it.  I said, somewhat arbitrarily, after May 16 (Ashley’s graduation party), so here I am, on Dr C’s schedule for May 25th.

Janet has since forwarded me a Word doc which is essentially our contract – a description of what Dr Cicek will do, hospital stay, blah blah, and a price for the whole thing — $18,000.  A large chunk of change indeed.

It is quite difficult to get a straight answer out of the American medical sstem for how much someting will cost.  When I tossed out $80,000 I got a smile and a nod.  When I tossed out $120,000 I got the same smile and a nod.  I didn’t have the “heart” to go higher, but I’m sticking with $120K-ish for the cost over here, for net savings to the John Freeman Retirement Fund in the neighborhood of $100,000!

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