Traveling and healthcare

April 03, 2022

 My first experience with traveling and healthcare occurred while pregnant with my son. At the time, I was living in the UK and went to the doctor for a pregnancy checkup. My prior experience of any well-woman checkup included an examining table with footrests. When I got to see the doctor in the UK, he told me to bend my knees and spread. I decided then and there that I was going back to the US to have my baby. I’ll never know what the experience is like to have a baby in a foreign country. Still, after being in foreign hospitals, I now know that expectations and realities are different. Most importantly, care can be much better than expected. I was recently diagnosed with brain aneurysms and had brain surgery in Singapore. Here are a few positive realities from my recent experience in traveling and healthcare.

In Singapore, doctors and their affiliations with hospitals are invaluable. In comparison, in my US experience, even though the doctors have partnerships with hospitals and testing centers, the coordination of appointments is not always timely. For example, when my friend in the US had test results that indicated she had breast cancer, she still had to wait at least two weeks to meet with a specialist. With my recent Singapore experience, I made a doctors’ appointment, saw the doctor, and was sent for an MRI the same day. Based on the results, I was admitted to the hospital the next day and had emergency brain surgery the following day. The entire process of diagnosis to treatment with brain surgery took three days.

Having medical insurance in Singapore was a benefit. However, the availability of medical insurance did not affect my treatment plan. My hospitalization happened over the weekend, so coordination with my insurance company was not available. Admission to the hospital was due to my diagnosis, not my insurance plan. I was given an estimate of $57,000 for my hospitalization and surgery during the admission process. Not once was I asked about employment or verification of insurance. In comparison, I have been to the emergency room in the US and have had to wait until the hospital verified my insurance before a doctor would attend to me.

I have also noticed that my experience with foreign doctors is more collaborative. The collaboration could be because I am more into wellness care than health care. I am very proactive when it comes to my health and not only visit the doctor when I have symptoms but also keep a schedule of health checks with a specific doctor. On almost every visit to a foreign doctor, I have left with a medical report of my testing results with ranges that show my health status so I could jointly decide what I needed to focus on.

This post is specifically about my recent lived experience in Singapore. I have had similar medical experiences in Thailand and have been to doctors in the UK and Germany. Overall, I think healthcare outside the US is a more positive experience. Like flying international carriers, it’s been my experience that customer service in the healthcare field is a much more positive experience. Have you had experience with healthcare outside the US? Are you surprised by my experiences? I’d like to know, so drop me a comment below.

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