Medical Tourism to Jerusalem - Getting Private Medical Treatment In Israel

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The Serial Tourist's Guide to Living in Jerusalem

Questions? Comments?

Copyright 2010 by Morris Rosenthal

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I've had some medical problems for over a year now, about 16 months to be exact, and I'm beginning to think they may not fix themselves. Unfortunately, I also have the worst attitude towards the American medical system of anybody I've met. It's not doctor hatred, I know doctors socially and in the family whom I have great respect for as human beings. In some cases, I believe they would also be great doctors to go to, in other cases, I think the system with it's bizarre norms of conduct and financial incentives has ruined them as medical practitioners. It's simply gotten to the point that I don't believe I could talk to a doctor without seeing dollar signs in his eyes. It doesn't help that as a profession, American doctors are the most arrogant individuals walking the face of the earth. I suppose you could blame it on their training and the adulation of some patients and employees. I'm also convinced that many of them have problems speaking the truth, saying instead what ever will save them the most trouble or earn them the biggest paycheck.

Question: What do you call a doctor who graduates at the bottom of his class?

Answer: Doctor.

Question: What do you call a really bad doctor who can barely hang on to his medical license?

Answer: Doctor.

Question: What percentage of American doctors are below average medical practitioners?

Answer: 50%

Of course, the answers to these questions are the same in Israel, but somehow, most Israeli doctors don't have such swollen heads. It could simply be a question of pay. Doctors in Israel aren't paid at anywhere near the rate of doctors in America, which means that many of them live in regular neighborhoods, struggle with the same bills as their neighbors, eat in the same restaurants, send their children to the same public schools.

I've spent more time in Israeli hospitals than American hospitals. Not as a patient, but as a live-in helper to a elderly friend. I've been sufficiently well impressed that if I ever need a hospital and have sufficient notice of the fact to travel, I'm heading for Israel and paying out-of-pocket. Of course, visiting hospitals isn't the same thing as receiving treatment in them, but that's something I'd hope to avoid at all costs for my entire life in any case. The real question for me is, at what level of pain and symptoms to I decide I'd rather have an answer next month rather than waiting another year.

As a serial tourist who's lived in Jerusalem for a number of years at the rate of a couple months a year for since 1993, Jerusalem is where I would head. Oddly enough, I've met a number of American born doctors in Israel and been highly impressed with them, so either they weren't ruined by practicing in the US, or there's just something about the American medical system that infects doctors only while they are part of it. Since I have family and friends who are Israeli citizens, I would start by asking for recommendations for a doctor who sees patients privately, in addition to seeing patients under Israel's socialized medical system, and find one who was willing to see me as a cash paying patient. If that doctor believed that some hospital procedure or testing was required, I'd research the out comes and look into the pricing before deciding if and where to do it.

But if you don't know anybody in Israel, even if you've never been there before, you can still go as a medical tourist. Hadassah has a dedicated page on their website for international patients, along with phone numbers and e-mail contact. While I don't have any inside information about the pricing, I suspect it's much cheaper than the US simply because they could double their normal charges and still cheaper than the US.

I had a dental cleaning in the US last week, my dentist has a son who lives in Israel, so I pointed out to him that I've seen advertisments for dental tourism to Israel in the Jerusalem Post. he had nothing but good things to say about dentists there, and his hygienist chipped in that she knew several people who had traveled to Israel for dental implants, to save money.

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