Vacation In Israel, Come Home Cured
Vacation In Israel, Come Home Cured
Sharon Udasin, Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Rachel and her partner had been contemplating artificial insemination for years, but they didn’t actually go ahead with the process until Rachel came to Jerusalem from New York for a one-year teaching fellowship. After some encouragement from another couple that had gone through the process, the decision was clear: they would create their child in Israel, at Hadassah Medical Center in Mount Scopus.
“I wanted a Jewish donor who lives and serves in Israel, and has his family living there, so that if my child ever wishes to search for the donor someday, my child will be led to Israel, which is religiously and ideologically important to my wife and me,” Rachel told The Jewish Week, asking that her real name be withheld for privacy. “Israel is renowned for its fertility treatment, and they don’t play around. They want and plan to get you pregnant as soon as possible, without dragging it out to make more money off of you like they do in the U.S.”
After five trials of regular intrauterine and intracervical insemination, and the assistance of the Gonal-F fertility drug, Rachel, now 14 weeks pregnant, finally conceived at one-fourth to one-fifth of the cost of a similar process in America.
Israel has seen a surge in medical tourism for various procedures in the past few years, yet thus far, experts say that the clientele remains largely concentrated among former Soviet countries and some African nations, where treatment facilities are still inadequate. But in recent years, Israel has begun to broaden its reach to couples like Rachel and her partner, slowly attracting customers from Western European countries and North America. While the medical care in Israel equals or even sometimes exceeds that of the United States and Western Europe, the cost of procedures remains significantly cheaper.
“Medical tourism in Israel has been around for about 17 years, but only in the last year or two has it become part of the Ministry of Tourism’s agenda, the Ministry of Finance’s agenda,” said Ira Nissel, CEO of International Medical Services (med-international.com), which has been guiding medical tourists through Israel for five years — reviewing pathologies and consulting multiple specialists. “We’re trying today to put Israel on the map. But in comparison to India and Costa Rica, the prices are a far cry from what you’d expect there.”
The quality of medical care in Israel, combined with an ideal vacationing environment, is drawing more patients to visit Israel for their procedures — most commonly for oncology, cardiac and in vitro fertilization procedures, according to Nurit Agiv, medical tourism executive at Assuta Medical Center in Tel Aviv. Residents of former Soviet countries, she noted, can easily visit Israel for these procedures because they no longer need a visa to travel there.
“A lot of the doctors had their fellowships here in the United States,” Nathalie Steiner, vice president of marketing at a new medical tourism initiative called Global Health Israel (globalhealthisrael.com), a subsidiary of her father Moshe Steiner’s larger medical equipment distributor, Israel Scientific Instruments, told The Jewish Week during a recent visit to New York. “And compared to India and Costa Rica, you can go out and eat at a lot of good restaurants — it’s a Western culture here.”
Steiner, who is limiting the focus of her fledgling company to IVF procedures for now, aims to target American insurance companies, self-insured private companies and uninsured Americans, who might enjoy the added benefit of a vacation in Israel. Nissel, who says his company has been bringing in patients for IVF treatment for years, estimates that between 85 and 90 percent of these tourists are from former Soviet countries, where IVF is often unavailable, as opposed to Israel, where women can undergo the procedure through age 42.
“You are not sick when you have IVF, so you can enjoy the country,” Steiner said, noting that IVF treatment in most Israeli hospitals will cost tourists approximately $4,000, about a third the cost in the U.S. And while in Israel, tourists can rely on companies like hers to arrange airport transportation and accommodations.
The lighter financial burden can be a huge attraction.
“It’s not the bargain rate of India, but it certainly has a top-notch medical system,” said Laura Carabello… Continue reading…Share