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Case Study - Uninsured - Self Employed

Mary Percak-Dennett - Knee Replacement
Like many of the 47 million uninsured Americans, Mary Percak-Dennett is a hard-working wife and mother of two children that has always played by the rules. A small business operator and owner from Wasilla, Alaska, Mary had noticed the pain in her right knee growing more excruciating with each passing year. Finally in 2007 she knew that if she did not take action soon, she would be in a wheel chair.

After consulting with an orthopedic surgeon she learned that she had degenerative joint disease and would require a total right knee replacement. The initial cost estimate for her procedure was over $90,000, a price tag that was simply too high, especially since both her children were in college. While considering her limited options for a few days, Mary’s husband remembered an article that he had read in the local newspaper about a person that had traveled to foreign country for a similar procedure at a fraction of the cost here in the US. Although this thought was initially unsettling, she felt that it would be better than being confined to a wheel chair while attempting to operate and manage her business. So she went online and began researching knee replacement surgery options abroad.

At first, Mary was shocked by the vast number of hospitals, doctors, and even governmental agencies promoting their “medical tourism” services, in what was sure to be in a very biased fashion. Such fragmented and biased information immediately raised questions of trust.

Mary began by contacting a US-based, medical travel service agency to field her initial questions answered. Since the agency listed a toll-free number on their website and were in the same general time zone, she assumed that it would be easier for communication purposes rather than trying to contact hospitals abroad, many of which were 12 to 14 time zones away.

Her speculation turned out to be correct. The American representative of the agency began to immediately answer all her questions and assuage her fears about having her surgery in a foreign country.

Four months later, Mary departed from Anchorage, Alaska on her journey half way around the world to have her knee replacement operation. By working with her chosen health tourism agency, all the planning and logistics had been arranged, down to every last detail. She felt as though all she had to do was show up, have her procedure, and then focus on the recuperation.

Upon her arrival at her chosen medical retreat destination, everything was proceeding as smoothly as she had expected, until her pre-op consultation with the orthopedic surgeon. After conducting a thorough blood test, they found that her iron level in her blood was too low, or in medical terms, iron deficiency anemia. As a precaution for Mary’s condition, the surgeon made the decision to postpone her knee replacement surgery for several days so that they could determine the root cause of her anemia.

Mary’s immediate concern as an international patient was contacting and communicating with her family and then changing all of her reservations - the hospital release date, hotel reservations, and the flight itinerary. There were so many changes that needed to be made. It seemed overwhelming at first. Quickly, Mary typed an email to her program manager at the agency that had handled all the arrangements in the first place. To Mary’s pleasant surprise, her program manager called her from the U.S. within minutes to address her concerns. Within the first hour, her family was informed about her situation. Shortly thereafter, her hotel reservations and flight itinerary were changed in accordance with the postponement of her surgery date. Every last detail was taken care of while Mary rested comfortably in the confines of her private hospital room. She wondered how difficult and frightening all the changes would have all been if she had contacted a foreign hospital directly and arranged her medical retreat on her own, without any representation.

Within a few days, a medical team at the hospital had determined that the cause of Mary’s anemia was a non-cancerous fibroid tumor. The consultant OB/GYN of the hospital immediately visited Mary in her room and discussed her diagnosis and advised her to undergo a safe surgical procedure to remove the tumor. Based upon all the information that Mary received about her prognosis, she decided to focus on the knee and then consider returning in the future to address her fibroid tumor. The orthopedic surgeon felt that it was completely safe for her to proceed with the knee replacement procedure.

Mary’s knee replacement surgery was a total success. After 2 weeks of medically supervised recuperation combined with physical therapy, she returned home to her relieved family. The cost of her total knee replacement was under $17,000, which included the airfare and accommodations in a deluxe hotel, a savings of more than $70,000.

Today Mary is walking pain-free and continues to run her business at full speed. She knows that her medical retreat improved the quality of her life, as it enabled her to continue working and use the incredible savings to help her two children with their college expenses. Her family and friends have been completely amazed by her tremendous recovery since her operation and are inspired by the energy in the way that she approaches her daily challenges.

Mary used the services of MedRetreat to facilitate her entire medical retreat.

To read an article about Mary Percak-Dennett in the Anchorage Daily News, please visit the following link:

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