Insurance decision will cost an expat no matter what

Part 4: It’s gonna hurt

(In my three previous posts, I explain the complicated decisions expats must face regarding their healthcare, especially when the unexpected occurs.)

When expats consider medical insurance, they quickly learn the decision about getting or foregoing it can be complicated.

What they don’t always accurately take into account is how the costs of insurance will grow and how risky the lack of it can be.

Having it is expensive. Not having it can cost a bundle too.  Worse, not having it can be dangerous.

With insufficient insurance, inadequate personal resources or both, a patient who is unable to receive quality care in his or her adopted country or another one could end up permanently maimed.  Or Continue reading

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Deciding where and which treatment to get took days

Part 3: Lucking out

(In Parts 1 and 2, you can read how I came to be self-insured and how I struggled to decide what to do about my injury.)

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The proof is the putting in of my bionic bone

Bangkok made the most sense to be treated.  But which hospital, which doctor?

Online, I checked three reputedly very good hospitals in Bangkok looking for a specialist whose training was not confined to Thailand.

I found an orthopedic surgeon at arguably the best and most expensive hospital in the country, Bumrungrad, which is among several there favored by many expats and medical tourists. A middle-aged Thai who has had training in the U.S., Dr. Siripong Ratanachai, telephoned me twice and answered my emails quickly before I reached Bangkok and connected us to each other via the Line free message service.  (He asks and answers questions at all hours, even months post-op and sometimes with just a whimsical emoji in response to a condition report.)  I count myself lucky to have found him.

Next came more decisions.  While making them, I lived on massively unhealthy and effective doses of ibuprofin.  Hey, it worked!

My subsequent choices related to getting to Bangkok and staying there.  It took the rest of Tuesday and Wednesday — two and three days since my fall — to complete my research so as to book airline tickets, arrange for wheelchair assistance, ascertain that the crutches that I had acquired would be acceptable onboard our hour-long Bangkok Airways flight, figure out how long we might need a hotel at a competitive price and then make a reservation there.

Thailand adjoins Cambodia, but we were, after all, engaging in international travel with no notice.

Immediately following my flight on Thursday, we met with my exceptionally patient doctor after my admission to Bumrungrad, which has its own waiting area at the airport and a free shuttle van to the hospital.

Dr. Siripong confirmed what I had discovered online about screwing my bones together as a poor option.  According to him, that approach would result in my right leg becoming about an inch shorter than it was prior to surgery and require me to put no weight on it for six weeks. As I recall, he also said that such treatment results in a 30-40 percent risk of problems in the future.  His remark about ensuing problems was consistent with what I had read, the rest of what he said being news to me.

I had a total hip replacement at 6 a.m. that Friday morning and was, incredibly to me, out of bed by 4 p.m. using a walker for a few minutes.

(I have been aware that post-op treatment these days means getting the patient out of bed as soon as possible.  It helps that they don’t stint on painkillers at Bumrungrad; their use explains why I am smiling in Part 1, I suspect.   I did put a stop to opioids after two days, and any pain was by then not a problem.)

I was on crutches the next day, out of the extraordinary hospital after my fourth night, by which time I could manage experimentally indoors without a cane, and had an unremarkable follow-up appointment with Dr. Siripong the next Monday.

I was instructed  to send him photos and videos from time to time and visit again at some point.  Call me a bad patient, but my recovery has been so swift and easy that I was in touch only twice.  I’m guessing Dr. Siripong understands why I haven’t otherwise messaged him.

Next: It’s gonna hurt no matter what

Email: malcolmncarter@gmail.com

Things don’t always work out, but I remain optimistic

Bhutan - 1 (1)

The other passengers have just finished eating delicious food. I didn’t even start.

A brothel, a baboon and a bone-rattling drive have been some of the lowlights of travels you can read about in my previous posts.  In this one, you’ll discover how this scuba diver was led to water and left mostly high and dry.  After my trip to Bhutan, you’ll see how the drawbacks of climbing every mountain became clear to me and will be evident to you as well.

Last of 4 Parts

Travel insurance definitely would have eased the financial pain of one my most recent travel disasters, a scuba diving break.  Logistics forced me to take three airplanes each way from my home in Cambodia and spend two overnights at hotels in Indonesia both before and after.

Given that I parted with an unholy amount of cash for the five nights of diving from an exceptional liveaboard boat that cruised from the island of Flores, I conceivably should have considered that something could go wrong.

What went wrong, to put it mildly, was Continue reading

An expat’s perspective on health care and immigration

BNH-Hospital-bangkok-premium-clinic-thailand-ogocare-2

BNH, the hospital in central Bangkok where I have received annual check-ups.

Technically, I am not an immigrant, though I make my home in Cambodia.  I have only a mailing address in the United States.

What I am is a retired expat whose year-to-year visa allows him to reside in Phnom Penh, where my savings go far indeed.  It is a good life, but it is one without a citizen’s rights (such as they are in Cambodia) and without dependable medical care.

Fortunately, I am an expat in excellent health now into his 70s.  Should I develop problems, the quality of my medical care here generally is suspect and its cost would be prohibitive for anything serious.

You see, I am uninsured outside the United States.  Even if coverage were obtainable from a reputable firm at my age Continue reading

Liking paperwork, you’ll love co-op renovations

(Flickr photo by luxomedia)

Anyone planning to undertake major renovations in a co-op apartment faces a forbidding task.  Without the building’s prior written consent to undergo structural alterations of an apartment, count on trouble ahead.

If you are a brave soul with plans to expand the kitchen you soon will acquire, add a bathroom or take down a wall, there is no guarantee that the co-operative will approve the alteration request.

Many boards won’t even consider Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: Landlord confession, piece of Portugal, April building permits, pocket listings, air purifiers, timely Lotto win, recovery threats

Penthouse pursuit is costly contagion to attain height, light, unobstructed views

Airbnb gears up for Albany initiative that would regulate short-term apartment rentals

City plans sale to debt collectors of tax liens against Sandy-hit homeowners

Cost of rent, price of property actually moving in sync

New York region’s borrowers way below average of homeowners who deduct mortgage interest

Stuyvesant Town tenants told pay up and up or move out this summer

Onetime Sinatra apartment sells after steep price cut

Lease confessions of small landlord make for compelling reading

All it takes is money, but there’s still rental inventory in the Hamptons

Investment group identified as purchaser of most expensive Manhattan residence, One 57 penthouse

Nascar superstar lists trophy condo on Central Park West for $30 million

Dancing queen Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: Condo inventory, rents, pet scams, best markets for sellers or buyers, retirees’ downsizing, consumers’ outlook

Next Weekly Roundup Jan. 4

Tastes downtown changing from industrial lofts, glass boxes

More evidence that developers adding to supply of condos

There’s nothing like decisions on art to stir the pot of acrimony in condos, co-ops

Real estate licensees rebound to 27,000 in the city alone

Manhattan’s median rent edges up in November

When buildings bar a pet, lawyers say, residents suddenly claim disabilities

High living costs cause half of population to contemplate leaving Long Island

Southampton home owned by TV news personality and actress wife goes quickly to contract

Author achieves perfect sale of Manhattan condo

Pair finds buyer of Upper East Side one-bedroom apartment in amazing time

 

Strongest sellers’ markets in Continue reading