Medical tourism is booming in many countries worldwide. Primary Care Optometry News spoke with Daniel Chayet, CEO at CODET Vision Institute in Tijuana, Mexico, which offers a full suite of ophthalmic surgeries with state-of-the-art equipment and procedures.
Chayet explains why many patients are traveling across the continent and beyond to save money without sacrificing quality and technological advancements.
PCON: What services and procedures are provided at CODET?
Chayet: CODET is a full-service ophthalmology institute, containing the main subspecialties such as cornea, cataract, refractive surgery, retina, glaucoma, oculoplastics and pediatric ophthalmology. We perform all surgeries within these subspecialties. Our high-volume surgeries are all-laser LASIK, PRK, laser cataract surgery, laser refractive lens surgery for presbyopia and retina surgery.
PCON: About how many people outside of Mexico visit CODET for their eye health annually?
Chayet: CODET has performed 20,000 surgeries on medical tourists since 1986 and almost 1,000 annually on medical tourists.
PCON: Why is medical tourism to your facility so successful?
Chayet: There are a couple of keys reasons. CODET has a leading clinical development and research department. As a result, CODET regularly has access to technology that isn't available in other clinics anywhere else in the world, particularly in the U.S., where the FDA takes a long time to approve new technology. Patients choose CODET because they can be treated with technology only available at CODET.
Patients in developed countries such as the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe can save 65% by being treated in CODET for equal or better-quality care. We're able to provide low prices because of our extremely high surgery volume.
Health care systems in developed countries, and in particular the U.S., have become more complex as time passes. Clinics in these systems have longer wait times and complicated billing processes, and insurance deductibles have skyrocketed over the years. As a result, medical tourism has become more appealing. If you're going to be treated abroad, it might as well be 20 miles from a major U.S. airport (San Diego International Airport) where there are amazing clinics and physicians (eg, CODET).
Self-insured employers (more than 80% of U.S. employers with 500+ employees) now allow their patients to be treated at high-volume surgery centers abroad at no additional cost as part of their insurance plan, and they'll also pay for their travel expenses. Employers save money because they pay claims that are lower in cost, and employees get good care.
Tijuana and Baja, Calif., are undergoing a cultural renaissance. There's never been a better time to be treated here and stick around for the BajaMed cuisine that's making waves in publications like the New York Times and the like.
PCON: Please tell us about your focus on customer service. How is CODET different than other surgical centers?
Chayet: We provide end-to-end service. We help coordinate your travel, we pick you up in San Diego, we hold your hand through the entire process at CODET, and we drop you off in San Diego. We repeat this process over and over again in a seamless way until all of your follow-up care is complete. We're fluent in Spanish and English. Most importantly, we treat you like family. – interviewed by Abigail Sutton