In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age
of 38. Now, into their 4th decade of this
financially independent lifestyle, they invite you
to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.
Guatemala Medical Travel
An Interview with Lori Shea,
Owner, Guatemala Medical Travel
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli
Lake Atitlan Travel and Info
Our objective at
Retire Early Lifestyle is to offer our Readers viable solutions to
retirement challenges. With the prices of medical care and health insurance in
the States being so high,
Medical Tourism or Medical Travel is a workable answer
Lori Shea is the owner of
Guatemala Medical Travel and she shares some very important
insights on this conundrum.
Take a look.
REL: Could you tell
us a little about your background?
I worked in the hospitality industry for thirty years, managing
luxury hotels and fine dining restaurants in Washington DC and Florida
since the 1980’s. I started my own consulting company in South Beach and
worked there and Key West until 2004 when I left the USA to go cruising
on my 36’ sailboat, Alani
REL: What was your
motivation to begin your business of Guatemala Medical Travel?
I was living aboard in Rio Dulce, Guatemala, I helped some local ex-pat
retirees to find medical care in Guatemala City. At a very reasonable
price, the level of medical skills and expertise I found there was
astounding. The patients, my friends, were amazed to be treated with
respect, compassion and patience by a medical specialist. Some said, for
the first time in their lives. I recognized this as a valuable resource,
a gold mine of affordable high-quality health care that more
international patients need to know about.
Lori at her desk
in Antigua, Guatemala
REL: What were the biggest
challenges you faced?
LS: The biggest
challenge is educating patients about the quality of skills and experience of
the Guatemalan doctors, going against their initial resistance to seek out care
beyond their hometown in America. Once our clients experience the care and
prices we offer in Guatemala, many of our patients come back 3 or 4 times and
send their friends here too.
REL: How long have you been
LS: It was in
2008 that my friend came to Guatemala from Key West for cataract surgery for
$2300, after getting a quote of $11,000 in Miami. We talked about creating a
business concept to bring other people here too, to get their surgical
procedures in Guatemala at incredibly low prices. It took me three months to
research the global industry of medical tourism and to write my website. It went
live on-line in November 2009.
REL: We have been proponents
of Medical Travel for over two decades now, long before it became a common topic of
discussion. Do you find that people still balk at the idea of traveling to a
foreign country to received medical care?
LS: Some people
simply are not travelers and would prefer to stay home, and pay five times more
in medical expenses, than to get on a plane and stay at a modern hospital and a
nice hotel in a foreign country. People who have traveled extensively, and need
health care abroad, are well aware that doctors and hospitals in other countries
are quite often superior to anything they would find, or could afford, in their
home state in America.
REL: What do you find to be
the biggest fear that prevents people from utilizing Medical Tourism?
LS: Patients want
to be assured that everything will be comfortable and familiar, just like at
home, and in Guatemala it is.
REL: How do you counter those
fears? Besides better pricing, what does Guatemala Medical Travel service offer?
and coordination are what we do best. Patients are actually better off coming to
Guatemala and having an agent to accompany them as a personal companion, nurse
and secretary throughout the whole process. We provide detailed medical progress
reports and financial statements, from their arrival to their departure. Every
expense is listed and described in English, together with receipts, compiled
into one easy-to-understand report. They return home with all of their
diagnostic reports, prescriptions, proposals, receipts and instructions together
in one file for easy future reference.
They could never expect
to have all that information from a U.S. doctor or hospital, or get that kind
VIP treatment at home.
Entranceway to Casa Muriel,
REL: What makes you different
than other Medical Concierge sites that offer Medical Tourism services?
LS: We have spent
many hours over many years to determine who the absolute best doctors in the
country are. We now have long-standing professional relationships with surgeons,
hospital, doctors and dentists that we trust completely.
Other medical tourism
companies sell hospital services in many different countries and know nothing
about the quality of care that is offered. They sell based on who pays the most
for advertising placement and patient referrals. At Guatemala Medical Travel, we
live here and work here every day, so we know Guatemalan medical providers
better than anyone.
REL: Tell us a little about
the staff of doctors with whom you work? Do they speak English? Where have they
been trained? Does a patient need to speak Spanish in order to take advantage
of the medical services you offer?
LS: We We work
with about 50 medical specialists and all of them speak English fluently or at
least 80%. It is absolutely essential to have clear communication with your
medical provider. I have also brought European patients to a German-speaking
gastroenterologist and a French-speaking Ear-Nose-Throat specialist in Guatemala
Guatemalan families send
their brightest students to the best universities in the world. In the US they
earn degrees from schools like Harvard, Colombia and Johns Hopkins, and when the
student visa expires, they have to return to their home countries. We are
fortunate to have extremely well-educated and skilled physicians with global
credentials right here in Guatemala City.
REL: What about the hospitals
that you utilize in your business? You know that people will ask if they are of
similar quality that they can find in the States or Canada.
LS: The doctors that we
trust and promote are trained in the best schools in the world. They will demand
surgical instrumentation, sanitation and support staff to the highest global
standards, in their medical facilities. The Guatemalan hospitals in which they
practice are on the same par with modern high tech hospitals in Europe, North
America or any other country.
REL: What makes your team of
doctors and hospitals different than what someone may find “back home?”
LS: The The
difference is that doctors in the United States, although they may be very
qualified, are not allowed to give CARE like the Guatemalan doctors do. Without
American lawyers, insurance companies, patient quotas, hospital policies, and
government restrictions to interfere, Guatemalan doctors are free to spend much
more time actually listening to and treating the patient. They can be totally
honest about what the patient really needs, and does not need, and what they
might want to choose as an alternative.
Adventurer's Guide to Guatemala
Don’t go to
Guatemala without this book! Take advantage of what we know. Click
REL: What is included in the
prices you quote? Are there any hidden fees? I don't think people would
welcome surprises like that. Do you have payment plans or must patients pay up
LS: For new
patient inquiries, there is an administration fee of $400 to collect their
history, create a file for them, and then present the case most accurately to
the doctors in Guatemala. The fee includes airport pick-up and a nurse companion
to make all the arrangements and accompany them to the doctor’s office and take
notes for the progress report.
The proposal that we
give to the patient includes all the surrounding expenses in detail, so the
patient is certain the costs for the procedure stay within their budget.
Being foreigners here,
North Americans do need to pay in advance because we would have no other way of
collecting after the procedure is finished. (Like a cruise or resort vacation)
The GMT agency has many resources and outlets in both countries through which
the patient can pay for their medical expenses safely and easily. Our clients
return home with all the receipts and forms required to request reimbursement
from their insurance company.
REL: It’s one thing to have a
crown or dental implant done through Medical Tourism. But what if a patient has
a serious condition like cancer or a heart issue? What sort of medical
procedures are provided through Guatemala Medical Travel?
directors at the Guatemala City cancer centers are affiliated with MD Anderson,
the American Cancer Society, Johns Hopkins, Sloan-Kettering and the FDA, to
mention a few. Treatment protocols in Guatemala are to cutting edge standards
together with their A+ level peers in North America and Europe.
are performed every day at our two largest hospitals. The orthopedic specialists
in Guatemala have performed thousands of joint replacements with astounding
International Hospital, Guatemala City
REL: Who does follow up care?
What happens if “something goes wrong?” Do your doctors work with the doctors of
the patient back in their home country?
Thankfully, nothing has ever “gone wrong” under our care. Our local medical
specialists are exceedingly cautious with foreign VIP patients, knowing that the
outcome of their work will be a reflection on all the medical providers of
Guatemala. In fact, if patients need follow up or further treatment, most prefer
to fly back here, instead of trying to get help from an American doctor.
The GMT client leaves
Guatemala with a complete file of the entire treatment process, and their
Guatemalan doctor will gladly arrange a video call or share images in a cloud
file to assure seamless continuation of care for their patient.
What is the chance of medical malpractice or adverse outcome?
kill 400,000 patients in the US usually happen due to a lack of
communication between caregivers. GMT patients stay in comfortable local
with complete access to our office and nurses whenever they want. We are in
constant communication with their doctor by email and cell phone, regarding
surgery preparation, after-care, medications and various concerns and
Are pharmaceuticals much cheaper in Guatemala?
LS: Some are
manufactured here by Bayer, Pfizer and Merck, for example, and they are much
cheaper. Other drugs must come from the U.S., so the shipping expense and
heavy import duty makes them more expensive to buy here.
How can the patient be sure that they are paying the best price of medical
LS: Your agent
will keep a detailed line-by-line daily report. All medical expenses are
categorized and calculated on a daily basis in your medical journal report.
REL: Does someone stay in the
hospital after their procedure or do you offer a place for recuperation? What if
a spouse or other loved one wants to accompany the patient? Where do they stay?
LS: Sometimes the
doctor will require a hospital stay of two or three days. After hospital
release, the patient is driven back to our own Casa Muriel patient recovery
house in Antigua. Spouses and friends are always welcome because the patient
will heal better in a serene home-like environment.
REL: What is the patient’s
responsibility in receiving this medical care in a foreign country?
LS: The patient
needs to be absolutely honest about their medical history, to help the doctor
diagnose and treat them most effectively. They should also buy airline tickets
that allow for plenty of time for a full recovery under our care before
patient needs to be
absolutely honest about their medical history, to help the doctor diagnose and
treat them most effectively. They should also buy airline tickets that allow
for plenty of time for a full recovery under our care before returning home.
REL: If someone is interested
in your services or would like to know more, how can they contact you?
LS: First, look carefully at
website and the video located on our primary page to understand what we do, how, and why.
Read over our FAQ page. Email questions to
agents@GuatemalaMedicalTravel.com and that will get you the most quick and complete
response. Also, we have a Miami phone on VOIP so that patients can call us here
in Guatemala without making an international long distance call. Also you can
check out these websites, which oversee:
Central America Surgery,
Central American Dental, and
Central America Doctors.
at Retire Early Lifestyle would like to thank Lori for her time and willingness
to share her insight and professional opinion on the topic of Medical Tourism.
For more stories and photos of Guatemala, click
About the Authors
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are
recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on
topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of
information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com,
they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since
1991. They wrote the popular books, The
Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your
Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website
Early Lifestyle appeals to a different
kind of person – the person who prizes their
independence, values their time, and who doesn’t
want to mindlessly follow the crowd.
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