Author Topic: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?  (Read 6785 times)

Big Boots Buddha

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Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« on: January 27, 2015, 01:27:38 AM »
Thanks for stopping by.

So I injured my shoulder lifting weights a few months ago. I felt something pop and while I hoped for the best, after 5 months it hasn't gotten any better. I live abroad (am from the USA). I don't have any insurance and I just looked into the Obamacare health plans, but they all begin in February and I wont be back until August.

I am preparing to return to the states and buy a house so I have a lot of money in cash in the bank, so I don't think I could apply for any subsidies in getting health care. Though I haven't filed my taxes yet and since I don't get W2's I could realistically put down any number, a very low one in this case, if that would help getting better priced health care.

What would you do in this circumstance? I will need to get an MRI and surgery. I have injured myself before but never anything this serious.

1. Are there any other countries which might have cheaper healthcare than the USA and could get a surgery there? What if I went to Canada or the UK, could I go to a doctor there for a cheaper price than the states?

2. Is there a way to apply for health care right when I return to the USA in August, then go to the doctor? Or do I need to sign up now and pay for 6 months before I see anyone?

The whole thing seems like a mess to me and being in pain makes it harder for me to rational and figure out the best way to solve this problem for the least amount of money. If you have any advice or this happened to you I would like to hear your opinion about what to do. Thanks~

bigalsmith101

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2015, 01:39:01 AM »
You basically told us nothing.

How old are you (matters for insurance).
What country are you in now.
Have you gone to the doctor at all, and what did they say?
How do you know you need an MRI and Surgery?

If your location is correct, and you are in NE China, and you definitely need surgery on your shoulder, I would recommend Bangkok, Thailand as a good option for surgery at a highly discounted rate (versus US pricing), with a very high standard of care.

Big Boots Buddha

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2015, 01:53:48 AM »
Hey bigalsmith


Will add more info.

Im 33. I have not gone to doctor. Several years ago I injured my shoulder in a similar way and after a few months it improved. At almost 6 months I have trouble moving my arm. I haven't seen any improvement. When I move the arm it sounds like the joint is full of stones, popping and cracking.

The question still stands. I have a seriously injured shoulder, no insurance, live abroad (China) and I am a 33 year old American.

Chinese health care is incredibly poor. I had an MRI done several years ago for a knee injury at the best hospital in my city and it was garbage. I took it to hong kong and the doctor said it was useless, had to do another one. Looking at both side by side I had to agree with the doctor, hard to see anything on the Chinese MRI.

Also not important. Just take my word for the fact I know my body well, spend a lot of time stretching, taking care of myself. This is a serious injury that is not improving at all.

Thanks for the Bangkok suggestion. I will look into it.

expatartist

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2015, 04:13:16 AM »
Agree with previous poster re. Thailand. Prices are fantastic. Since your shoulder isn't life-threatening, Chiang Mai might be a good option for you too: a good deal cheaper than Bkk, but the quality of many hospitals is quite good. For what you'd save vs Bkk you could probably rent a room and have a month-long holiday there.


ltt

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2015, 04:34:14 AM »
Personally, I would not get surgery in China.  What about India?  How much would it cost you to fly there and have surgery done, if needed.  Plus the added possibility of western-trained doctors.


chola

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2015, 05:05:41 AM »
try Apollo hospital (http://chennai.apollohospitals.com/) or MOIT (http://www.jointforlife.com/) in Chennai,India. well western-trained doctors.

Cost of surgery around 10000$   (10k)
stay+ticket(US to chennai)+food for a month around 4k to 5k.

« Last Edit: January 27, 2015, 05:08:17 AM by ram_chand »

MikeBear

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2015, 03:01:06 PM »
For what it's worth, 5 years ago I really hurt my left shoulder (and more) at age 50. I took a dump on my motorcycle due to gravel, and went down hard on that side. I didn't go to the doctor either, even though I probably should have. I couldn't lift it higher than shoulder level, and I'm pretty sure I tore the muscles/tendons pretty bad.

Anyway, the shoulder eventually healed fine all by itself, BUT, it took 1.5 years to do so. The only real things I did to help it, was to keep it moving as much as possible, so I wouldn't end up with "frozen shoulder". Later on, I did some light exercise with 2 lb weights. Men tend to use far more weight than they need to when exercising. 2 lb's is plenty for rehab, IF you use proper lifting techniques.

It takes a LOT longer for soft tissue injuries to heal, than say broken bones. You can pretty much guarantee something like this will take over a year to heal, even if you are much younger than I am.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2015, 03:08:18 PM by MikeBear »

etselec

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2015, 04:07:22 PM »
To answer your US insurance question: moving entitles you to a Special Enrollment Period, so you'd be able to enroll in coverage for August when you arrive back in the States. Depending on your state, a very low income could qualify you for Medicaid, or for nothing at all. A low-to-mid-range income would qualify you for subsidies in any state.

But seriously, you have a lot of money in the bank? Go get your shoulder fixed! Don't wait until August. Fly to a cheap country where you trust the doctors and the medical system.

Big Boots Buddha

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2015, 10:43:07 PM »
For what it's worth, 5 years ago I really hurt my left shoulder (and more) at age 50. I took a dump on my motorcycle due to gravel, and went down hard on that side. I didn't go to the doctor either, even though I probably should have. I couldn't lift it higher than shoulder level, and I'm pretty sure I tore the muscles/tendons pretty bad.

Anyway, the shoulder eventually healed fine all by itself, BUT, it took 1.5 years to do so. The only real things I did to help it, was to keep it moving as much as possible, so I wouldn't end up with "frozen shoulder". Later on, I did some light exercise with 2 lb weights. Men tend to use far more weight than they need to when exercising. 2 lb's is plenty for rehab, IF you use proper lifting techniques.

It takes a LOT longer for soft tissue injuries to heal, than say broken bones. You can pretty much guarantee something like this will take over a year to heal, even if you are much younger than I am.

Hey Mikebear,

Yeah that's the same situation as me as far as damage. I was lifting very heavy overhead press, all the bottom of the lift I pushed up and my shoulder tendons/muscle seem to rip and make a loud pop. I couldn't lift my arm at all for several weeks, it wouldn't move. Now I can move it around 6 months later, but everyday I wake up in intense pain. I did IBprofen for several months, but I thought I might be doing more damage to it if I couldn't feel it. So just keep it at my side. Lifting above my head, or moving it, the joint makes a lot of popping, snapping noises, causes pain.

But I also saw, many rotator cuff injuries don't require surgery, just a really long time to heal. The thing is, I had this happen to me several years ago and it was nothing like now. I hurt it bad, but several months later, 95%. Now Im at 30% 6 months later. I am a few years older, and it is the same shoulder though.

Big Boots Buddha

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2015, 10:50:23 PM »
To answer your US insurance question: moving entitles you to a Special Enrollment Period, so you'd be able to enroll in coverage for August when you arrive back in the States. Depending on your state, a very low income could qualify you for Medicaid, or for nothing at all. A low-to-mid-range income would qualify you for subsidies in any state.

But seriously, you have a lot of money in the bank? Go get your shoulder fixed! Don't wait until August. Fly to a cheap country where you trust the doctors and the medical system.

Wonderful news etselec!!!

I am from MI and there is a Medicare expansion so people under 16,000 yearly income can apply and get free health insurance. I can apply for this like other Mustachians, I have money in the bank. Im not sure how that will affect me.

Thanks for the info etselec. I am in the process now of applying online to low income health insurance, actually I finished it but haven't submitted yet, checking over again, will add the essay portion soon to try and explain that I am abroad at the moment, which I think might work against me.

This is who is eligible for Healthy Michigan Plan: http://www.michigan.gov/healthymiplan

•Are age 19-64 years
•Have income at or below 133% of the federal poverty level* ($16,000 for a single person or $33,000 for a family of four)
•Do not qualify for or are not enrolled in Medicare
•Do not qualify for or are not enrolled in other Medicaid programs
•Are not pregnant at the time of application
•Are residents of the State of Michigan

I am a MI ID card holder but not living in MI at the moment. This will only change later.



deborah

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2015, 12:31:14 AM »
For what it's worth, 5 years ago I really hurt my left shoulder (and more) at age 50. I took a dump on my motorcycle due to gravel, and went down hard on that side. I didn't go to the doctor either, even though I probably should have. I couldn't lift it higher than shoulder level, and I'm pretty sure I tore the muscles/tendons pretty bad.

Anyway, the shoulder eventually healed fine all by itself, BUT, it took 1.5 years to do so. The only real things I did to help it, was to keep it moving as much as possible, so I wouldn't end up with "frozen shoulder". Later on, I did some light exercise with 2 lb weights. Men tend to use far more weight than they need to when exercising. 2 lb's is plenty for rehab, IF you use proper lifting techniques.

It takes a LOT longer for soft tissue injuries to heal, than say broken bones. You can pretty much guarantee something like this will take over a year to heal, even if you are much younger than I am.

Hey Mikebear,

Yeah that's the same situation as me as far as damage. I was lifting very heavy overhead press, all the bottom of the lift I pushed up and my shoulder tendons/muscle seem to rip and make a loud pop. I couldn't lift my arm at all for several weeks, it wouldn't move. Now I can move it around 6 months later, but everyday I wake up in intense pain. I did IBprofen for several months, but I thought I might be doing more damage to it if I couldn't feel it. So just keep it at my side. Lifting above my head, or moving it, the joint makes a lot of popping, snapping noises, causes pain.

But I also saw, many rotator cuff injuries don't require surgery, just a really long time to heal. The thing is, I had this happen to me several years ago and it was nothing like now. I hurt it bad, but several months later, 95%. Now Im at 30% 6 months later. I am a few years older, and it is the same shoulder though.
My brother had an injury like this, and after it he often dislocated his shoulder. It definitely needed surgery, and it is much better since he had the surgery.

gooki

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2015, 01:17:45 AM »
I'd go back to hong-kong and get it fixed there.

Big Boots Buddha

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2015, 03:41:41 AM »
I'd go back to hong-kong and get it fixed there.

Previously my job had amazing insurance but they changed policies to save money and I don't have insurance anymore.

Hong Kong medical care is as good or better than western countries, but its very, very expensive. I think it would be cheaper to go back to the USA and pay cost. No really an option. If I was a HK resident it would become more reasonable.

deborah

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2015, 03:45:36 AM »
Lots of people do medical tourism to Thailand, and the people I know who have been there all had excellent experiences.

worms

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2015, 05:18:05 AM »
Might also be worth checking in with a good physiotherapist, preferably a sports injury one.  It may be that they can help or at least tell you if they think it needs surgical attention. 

I have had rotator cuff injuries twice and you have to let the passage of time go by before it heals and reaches the stage that a physio can break down the adhesions.  I would be wary of a surgeon jumping in and deciding to use a surgical approach unless it was absolutely necessary.  And, yes, the affected shoulder is a b****r to sleep on! You have my sympathies.

davef

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2015, 09:59:49 AM »
I think its worth getting a MRI in China to see what you are looking at. If it is a full thickness tear It will need surgery to fix, one of the 4 ligaments in your shoulder is literally separated. If it is a partial thickness tear it will heal on its own but takes 6 months in IDEAL circumstances, and that's if you can avoid using it for that 6 months. I had a partial thickness tear in both wrists from lifting weights. It healed on its own but took about 6 months before it was not painful day to day. about a year before it was 100%.

Big Boots Buddha

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2015, 08:31:00 PM »
I think its worth getting a MRI in China to see what you are looking at. If it is a full thickness tear It will need surgery to fix, one of the 4 ligaments in your shoulder is literally separated. If it is a partial thickness tear it will heal on its own but takes 6 months in IDEAL circumstances, and that's if you can avoid using it for that 6 months. I had a partial thickness tear in both wrists from lifting weights. It healed on its own but took about 6 months before it was not painful day to day. about a year before it was 100%.

That's not a bad idea. I might have to travel to Beijing or Shanghai to get a better quality MRI machine. If it was just a partial tear then perhaps by summer it would have gotten better.

expatartist

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2015, 05:10:25 AM »
DH recently got an MRI (looking for potential aneurysm) at a local hospital near the Temple of Heaven. Think it was RMB1-1.5K. Much better than the 'foreign hospitals' which charge 5-8K here. Happy to confirm which hospital if you like.

GoCubsGo

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2015, 09:08:15 AM »
I've also damaged my rotator cuff  (labrum and infra spinatis tendon) doing heavy overhead presses. Hopefully you don't have a full tear.

One thing you may be able to get while in China to tide you over is a cortisone shot.  It may make it bearable for several months while you explore other options.   Not a fix, but could definitely help with the pain without having to take massive amounts of ibuprofen.

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2015, 09:15:14 AM »
As an American that lived in the UK. You cannot fly there for medical tourism. If it happend while you were visiting they would see and care for you.

You would need residential id (such as NHS number) for general NHS appointments and care. Operations have long wait lists (6 Months for non emergencies).

You can go there and pay private rates although that would end up being more expensive than the US.

Big Boots Buddha

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #20 on: October 24, 2015, 10:48:43 PM »
Going to the way back machine -----

So I had a torn labrum and got shoulder surgery in the USA. Was pretty great, went to the specialist and he had an opening 3 days later for surgery. The patient before me canceled and I happened to be in the right place, at the right time.

Now the waiting game until its back to 100%!!!!

Shane

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #21 on: October 24, 2015, 11:01:46 PM »
Congratulations! Hope you have a speedy recovery. Were you able to get covered under ACA? Medicaid?

terran

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Re: Serious Shoulder Injury, Live Abroad, No Insurance, Solutions?
« Reply #22 on: October 25, 2015, 03:33:06 PM »
GoCurryCracker makes healthcare sound quite good and quite affordable in Taiwan: http://www.gocurrycracker.com/spa-day-at-the-health-clinic/