Snapshot of the future?

This article points to some things I think we’re going to see much more of in the future: going outside the US for treatment and using the internet as health advisor. (Excerpted from AP article.)

When Arnaud Durieux needed to get his
teeth fixed about six months ago, the freelance Web designer caught a
flight from New York to his native France.

Because he has no health or dental insurance, he figured this was
his best option to get good care at a good price, even factoring in the
cost of the airplane ticket. The French dentist charged him about $500
for the crown, compared with the $2,000 he says it would have cost him
in New York.

Durieux’s is one of many strategies that the
45 million uninsured people in the United States employ in an attempt
to keep themselves healthy without going broke, as medical and health
insurance costs have soared in recent years.

The escalating costs are expected to keep
the ranks of the uninsured growing for years. A study by researchers at
UC San Diego, published earlier this month by the policy journal Health
Affairs, predicts that 56 million people in the United States — more
than one in four American workers — will be uninsured by 2013.

"It worries me all the time. It doesn’t
settle well with me," said C.J. Holm, a 42-year-old New York woman who
is looking for a part-time job that offers health benefits until her
new catering business brings in enough money for her to afford coverage.

She beat ovarian cancer in the 1980s but has had to skip regular checkups because she can’t afford them.

"When I think about it, I feel really guilty," she says.

For Nancy Twigg, a 38-year-old author and
newsletter publisher in Knoxville, Tenn., being uninsured means looking
up her symptoms on the Internet when she gets sick, peppering friends
who are nurses and pharmacists with questions, and treating whatever
she can with over-the-counter medicines.

If disaster strikes, she has faith she’ll be covered by a service
called Samaritan Ministries, a group of Christians that sends money
each month to members of the network who have high medical bills.

Research shows that uninsured people
usually put off care for as long as possible, he said. "If they are
having a health problem, they try to see if they can wait it out. Often
that is to their detriment."

"It’s estimated that nearly 18,000 people in the U.S. probably die each year because they do not have health coverage," he said.

Experts say most of the uninsured population consists of people
whose employers don’t offer benefits, but who make too much money to be
covered by public health programs and not enough to afford their own

High medical bills are the second-leading cause of personal bankruptcy, Schear said.