A Medical Tourism Trip to Prague

geni-summer-campOh boy, we’re going for it now. We’re taking a medical tourism trip to Prague for a hip replacement.

My wife, Geni Morrow, has been dancing and tumbling, and teaching dance and tumbling, for over 45 years. She owned a dance school called The EDGE (Elite Dance and Gymnastics) for many years and, in contrast with typical dance and gymnastics academies, she did not discriminate against girls that were “overweight.” Any girl with the desire to throw herself into the air and go upside-down was welcome at The EDGE.

For those of you that don’t know anything about coaching gymnastics, the coach has to “spot” the athletes through the learning of new skills. This means helping them up and over in the middle of a back-handspring, for example. It can also mean literally catching them and bringing them safely to the floor mat. When you’re doing this a hundred or more times a day, for decades, for girls of different heights, weights, and skill levels, the wear and tear on the coach’s body adds up, as you might imagine.

osteoarthritisGeni has osteoarthritis in both hips and the pain in her right hip has gotten pretty bad in the past year. Our doctor said she could wait a couple of years for Medicare to kick in, or go ahead and schedule a surgery with an orthopaedist. Spending two or three years in that kind of pain is not an option. We’d rather go into retirement broke, but walking comfortably, than spend years in pain.

A friend of ours recently had a hip replacement, and we’ve spoken to several other acquaintances who’ve had it done, and their stories match up pretty well. Our friend has the same level of Obamacare that we do, with the same deductible and co-pays. She was in the hospital for 2 nights and went home on the third day. Her out-of-pocket costs, after insurance coverage, was $29,000.

We decided to research medical tourism. We had become open to the idea after a trip to Greece in the fall of 2015. Geni had been putting off major dental care for several years and it turned into an emergency when we were in Nafplio, Greece. She ended up getting 4 root canals, and a five-part bridge for $3400. We’ve been told that that would have cost $12,000 or more in the U.S. The quality of care was superb, and Greece doesn’t come up high in any of the medical tourism searches we’ve done since then.

So the Google searches began. We’d heard of excellent care in places like Thailand, Panama, and Poland. The countries of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Czech Republic showed up in quite a few searches as well. This is due to the fact that surgeries are very expensive in the UK and France, so people that don’t want to wait for their public care system, and that have the money, have been traveling to Central and Eastern Europe for procedures.

We were leaning toward this area for the combination of reduced costs, quality care, and, yes, because we’re more interested in visiting parts of Europe than Southeast Asia. We came up with a list of possibilities and sent out emails directly to hospital contacts, rather than to the medical tourism brokers that dominate the search results. One of our emails got forwarded to a man at one of the brokerages anyway and his professionalism separated him from the other responses we received.

clinic-malvazinkyIt turned out that he represented hospitals in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and the Czech Republic. After a bit of back and forth about Geni’s situation, he recommended a hospital in Prague, Czech Republic. It turned out to be the hospital we had been leaning toward anyway, so we decided to go with it. He passed us on to a staffer at the clinic and she helped us with more detailed questions and scheduling.

This is the website for Rehabilitation Clinic Malvazinky. This is their marketing video. In spite of the name, the surgery also takes place here, but in a separate wing.

Here’s a bit about the doctor that will perform the surgery: Dr. Vladislav Hospodár held the position of physician of the Czech Republic national handball team in 1995-2002, the basketball team in 2003-2006 and the ice-hockey team in 2006-2011. In 2014 he held the position of the chief physician for the Czech Republic acrobatic skiing team for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

We were also told that he is the go-to surgeon for joint surgeries for members and former members of the Czech national basketball team, though he isn’t the official team doctor.

We’ll be arriving a week before the surgery so that Geni gets a chance to enjoy some of the tourism part of the medical tourism trip. We’ve got tickets to a Postmodern Jukebox show our first night in Prague. We’re a bit old for blending in with the hipsters, but we’ll do our best. It shouldn’t be too hard . . . we were hipsters before most of them were born.

For those of you that skipped all the blah-blah, here’s the part you’ve been looking for.

Hip Replacement–Eugene, Oregon

$29,000 (remainder after Obamacare)

  • 2 nights, 3 days hospital stay
  • doctor exams
  • medicine
  • $50 per roll of toilet paper
  • hip replacement surgery

Rehabilitation: You’re on your own for whatever you can manage.

Hip Replacement–Prague

$8,574, includes round trip airfare and

  • greeting at airport by English speaking clinic staff member and ride to hotel or apartment
  • 4 days before surgery – examinations by otolaryngologist, gynecologist, dentist
  • 3 days before surgery – examination by cardiologist, x-rays taken
  • 2 days before surgery – meetings with generalist and anaesthesiologist
  • 1 day before surgery – preparation, medication and
  • hospitalization in double room (wifi, TV) with 3 meals per day
  • Surgery
  • 1 day after surgery – intensive therapy in reanimation department
  • 2 days after surgery – intensive therapy in reanimation department
  • 3-4 days after surgery – start of rehabilitation treatment
  • includes all meals and all medication
  • includes followup visits by appropriate doctors

Hip replacement 6500€ = $7,334
round trip airfare: $1240
Medical tourism total: $8,574

Optional (strongly recommended) Rehabilitation:

  • 2 weeks in rehabilitation center
  • Double room (wifi, TV), 3 meals
  • 5 therapy sessions per day
  • Driven to airport and off you go

2000€ = $2,256

SubTotal (surgery + rehab): $10,830

Additional costs for spouse that enjoys morning coffee and pastry in 800 year old cafe, numerous visits to pubs in the homeland of a beverage known as Pilsner, touring ancient castles, dungeons, churches and what-not:

Airfare: $1240
Airbnb: $895
(2 story apartment at $53 per night, 20 minute walk to clinic, 20 minute walk to old town Prague, 2 blocks from the Vltava River)
Food, drink, museum fees: your guess is as good as mine
Flowers for the patient: priceless
Side trip to Vienna (or Berlin): $500
Total for moral support and documentation: $3200
Grand Total: $14,030
, includes vital services of spouse/bodyguard/well-wisher

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