Medical Tourism Hospitals in Big Cities

Medical Tourism Hospitals in Big Cities
I am here in San Fernando, La Union the Philippines visiting small Doctors in small Hospitals. It is sad and frustrating; I talked with a great Doctor by the name of Neil Ambasing in Bethany Hospital. He specializes in Neurological Medicine. He is telling I need to go to St. Lukes Hospital in Manila, or more correctly in Quezon City to diagnose what type of nodule or cyst is on my back. The small hospital does not have the proper medical equipment.

My father is in the USA, now making trips from Orland, Indiana to either Fort Wayne, or Indianapolis for his cancer.

50 Miles to Fort Wayne
150 Miles to Indianapolis

Bauang - Paringao - San Fernando, Philippines
La Union Province
Southeast Asia
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Buy the Same Gear as Andy uses… At three times the price, sorry.


Doctor Ambasing wants me to get a MRI with a machine that is greater than .2, or as he wrote it >.2

I am a free man, I can live anywhere in any country on the planet, I have no reason to go home, because I have no home. My father has a house; he is tied to this house and feels obligated to return to his home. About one year ago, he and my mother moved to Fort Wayne for one month and paid and outrageous amount of rent to live there so they could get cancer treatment.

Sadly, it appears in any country on the planet, a person must somehow travel to the largest cities to get the best Medical Treatment because of equipment. I am not worried about the cost of the Medical treatment I am know it cost a small fortune to live in Manila. I need to pay 25 Dollars per night, and still I need to take a taxi for 2-3 hours per day to make it to Quezon City.

As I wrote this, I thought to myself, I am planning on going to Lima, Peru. I can go live there a better room cheaper. Then go to what I believe may well be better Hospital in Peru. The cost of living in Lima is about one-fifth the cost of living in Manila and the daily quality of life is twice as good.

I speak Spanish Fluently; this makes Lima, Peru and option.

However, as a Medical Tourist, I am realizing, you may as well forget the small cities, the same as the USA, they all point you to the largest of the large. In addition, trust me Manila is outrageously congested, polluted and annoying, with a few great perks, generally one of the worst cities on the planet.

I will go again today and talk with Neil Ambasing in Bethany Hospital, I am going to ask him to call Angeles City and ask about the MRI machines there. Angeles City is half the price of Manila, and the quality of life there is better. It cost 5 dollars per meeting with Doctor Ambasing, or 250 Pesos.

I already got one MRI of my lower lumbar or spine, I now need to get one of my hip joint, or where the nodule is, I point a the nodule and everyone points somewhere else. It cost 150 Dollars to get an MRI here in the Philippine and as best, I understand about 4000 Dollars in the USA.

What an amazing difference in price to turn on a machine.

I am leaning towards flying to the USA, saying hello to my parents, then flying to Lima, Peru where I sense the Doctors are better. I was there a year ago and visited a Hospital, the clarity of the how to diagnose this problem was much better, or felt more honest.

On the Human Development Index Peru is rated 79, while the Philippines is rated 102, Thailand is rated 81, does this mean anything, I would say yes, it is the overall cultural development that sets the mean level of care.

Medical Tourism Hospitals in Big Cities


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Andy, I know that you have probably already considered it (and I hope you don't bite my head off, heehee). But, why not see a specialist in the US when you visit your family. It's only money and I can't believe I'm saying that because I'm FRUGAL. It's just that quality of life counts for something and I believe your pain is effecting your quality of life.

Maybe they could remove the cyst and biopsy it and find out something. It doesn't have to take very long. That said, I do find your writings on the medical system in other countries interesting to read.

Frugal, you are 100 percent correct. I have been talking with my friend Jeff W who is a new Doctor in the USA. I am going to get all the test, MRI, X-rays, blood, and a biopsy here for 1/50 the price.

I can take these test to the USA or email them to him, he is not a specialist in this area.

Get all the test here, get the diagnose there.

The ultimate problem here or there is this. There is no solution to my problem, none of the Doctors have given me any solution. They will talk, think, explain the problem, but nobody can give me one solution.

I think the solution is a change of lifestyle, I must lose 15 pounds, walk fast, do stretches like Yogo, and exercise my left gluteus muscles. I have a list of about 15 things to do daily, if I do these things it will improve. I cannot re-injure this, I must allow it to heal.

The kicker is this, 8 months ago this was incredibly painful, each month that goes by the problem become less... Think about this, it will eventually go away if it continues.

I am an incredibly persistent person, I want to optimize my life, not minimize it, if possible I want to run 10 miles. I do not want to stop living. If I can pay small money and find the solution I win. Truly this problem is minimal compared to a 300 pound ole fart who drinks, smokes, and refuses to take care of himself.

I weigh 184 pounds, if I get down to 170, I would be optimal for a 6 foot man, but couple that with exercise.

I am not into pain management, I am into optimal living.

I suppose I could stumble around in countries for years and one day I will find the solution for pennies. Plus .... hehehe the advertising about subjects like this pay more than travel.... hehehe

Do we want to learn about our bodies, or do we want to ignore them. The solution to all problems is time, the more time I devote to a problem, the better the solution.


All situations are grey, however I know readers want absolutes, yes or no.

Thanks Frugal, this is dynamic solution.

The reason your good doctor Ambasing is recommending the MRI at either St. Lukes or Makati medical center is simply that those machines are much higher field strength magnets and with very new software to get good imaging. He is giving you very sound medical advise.

Simply put, an MRI of a field strength at 0.2 t (tesla) will give a lower grade image than an MRI of 0.5 t. The lower field strength (magnetic field) cannot overcome the "noise" level that a high field strength machine can. This is an important factor in medical imagining, the "signal to noise ratio". So the higher field strength machines have an "edge" over lower field strength. In Makati Med and St. Lukes, their machines range up to 1.5 t or about 5 times more magnetic strength than a 0.3 machine such as the one at Lorma. In addition, St. Lukes has just installed a 2million USD MRI rated at 3.0 Tesla, a very modern and powerful tool for extremely precise imaging. Here is the link to that information:

This compares to very few USA hospitals have this powerful of an MRI system!

The other important factor is the age of the software! Each software upgrade can cost 100,000. USD or more depending on the machine. Many hospitals wait for years to upgrade the software due to cost factors. St. Lukes and Makati have very new (2-3 year old machines) at high magnetic strengths (1.0 to 1.5t) and updated software with St. lukes just opening their new 3.0t MRI as well.

That is a summary of the Hardware and software aspect of MRI. The MOST IMPORTANT factor, however, is the READING and INTERPRETATION of the actual image. This should be done by a specially trained "Board Certified" Neuro Radiologist in neurological related imaging. This is an MD that goes through another 3 to 4 years of rigorous training in the specialty of Neurological science and radiological science and physics. Both Makati and St. Lukes have these trained "readers" on staff, many of whom do their residencies in the United States.

(23 years as commercial rep at the Texas Med Center in Radiological Imaging such as MRI, CAT Scanners, Cardiac Cath Labs and Diagnostic Xray)

IN CASE THE LINK FAILED to St Lukes..please try this

Go to:

Then select the link on the upper left of the home page that says:

"State of the Art Technology"

then select

"3.0 Tesla MRI "



JD this is perfect, except for one essential thing?

How much does it cost in Manila at St Lukes to do an MRI?

How much does it cost to in the best of the best USA MRI?

I am not ex-military who has the USA pay for all my expenses. I pay with my own money and a medical tourist is the same. We must pay our own, we do not have insurance. If I had insurance to cover this, I would get it done in the USA and skip this whole Charlie Foxtrot culture.

Give me the money!
Jerry Mcguire

Ooops, tell me the opposite.

Your wish is my command!!

I just called St. Lukes and asked for the MRI department ((632) 723-0101) and inquired about the cost of an MRI exam of the hip joint.

A very helpful lady stated "MRI for hip joint is 20,370peso ($425.00)
This includes all fees for reading, and technical fees.

In the USA you will get up to 3 different bills for this exam. You will get a bill from the MRI owner (hospital, clinic or individual) for the use of the machine and the operator. Then you will get a bill for the "reading" or intrepretation. Then you may get another bill for disposable items such as IV, or medications, toilet paper or whatever.

Someone in the USA may give you a cost estimate for the same exam but I suspect it will range from 600.00 to 1,800.00 USD.

Hope this helps you, Andy.


Andy, you mentioned Health Insurance as a concern. It is for many expats here in the Philippines but there are solutions. Here is a link to 18 Health Insurance providers here in the Philippines:

There are many plans to choose from, as individual policies and family policies as well.


JD, excellent, I know one of my readers, I know there is are people who are desperate. I am not desperate, I do not feel this is do or die. I am more than willing to say screw off to the Doctors. But someone knows they must get an MRI for a critical reason now. This is the cost in Manila, we now know this.

For me, I must think, is 425 dollars worth the price? What are the probabilities they find something and can diagnose this problem. I tend to think they are just ordering another test.

JD, you told me to get a close up ultrasound. I tried, I told him, he said it will not work. But gee wiz, maybe 20 buck of giving it a try is better than paying 425 to me!

Hmm, lets try it, that is what I can say.

I think the solution to this problem of MINE is the same. Stretch, exercise, lose weight, I have yet to have one Doctor tell me what they will do if they find something.

What are you looking for?
If you find this, what will you do?

Options, they to me are extremely dysfunctional, I want them to be talking more about possible solutions and less about the maybe we get diagnose.

Fun stuff, but truly a scary Charlie Foxtrot if I was truly going to die from this. I am just in pain, that gets less every month. I think it will disappear if I ignore it.


Thanks JD,

People who live in ONE country need these options, insurance works good if you are not a traveler.

Here is the only company I have ever heard about that offers health insurance for a person that lives anywhere on the planet.

I am NOT going to live in the Philippines and I am not going to buy Filipino insurance.

I am here visiting, paying all on my own buck.

Amazing the amount of fine print for insurance, here is a post I made explaining how insurance will stop covering you if you are in a country that the USA government says not to visit. As I see it, I cannot leave the USA or I am out of insurance for the most part.

Life is for living, insurance is for dying or people who do not travel. I guess I will die one day and this is ok, sooner or later, it is not important to me.

Andy, I think at this point you are wasting your time in the smaller hospitals. I would go to St. Lukes or Makati Medical Center. Makati Medical Center is probably cheaper. These are the top tier in Manila, I am not sure of the difference between them but I think St. Lukes is more oriented toward medical tourism.

I would say that one of these hospitals is probably one of the better places on the planet for medical tourism, prices are within reach, quality very high, and English is spoken by all. It is probably cheaper than Bumrungrad, in Bangkok.

In fact, if I were to pick one hospital on the planet for a cash payer confronting a difficult medical problem considering value, quality, and language, I would probably pick St. Lukes. Bumrungrad is probably higher quality but probably more expensive.

Also, you will be off to a running start there. You can show them the data you have collected, intelligently inform them about your case, and so that gives them a big head start.

You are already in the best place, no need to fly halfway across the planet.

Travis (from Colombia)

*Fun stuff, but truly a scary Charlie Foxtrot if I was truly going to die from this. I am just in pain, that gets less every month. I think it will disappear if I ignore it.*

To partially e Gen John Stark *Death is not the worst of evils.*

As you often write, quality of life is probably most important. We will all die, but not everyone will live. But as you continue to show us, good quality of life comes mostly from what we make of life rather than the roll of the dice. I have seen people who were perfectly healthy and in a good financial position except maybe a little hay fever who had a terrible quality of life because they beleived that life sucked and created their own troubles, real or imagined. I have also met people who seemed to have everything going against them, with serious health issues and various dissasters beyond their control who had a great quality of life, mainly because of a good attitude and making the best of what good things there were in thier lives,

So, you have some pain, you are not letting it stop you, just slow you down and you are doing something to correct it. Still a good quality of life. Of course, you are also busy. What I think most people would have a hard time doing if they tried to travel like you is to keep busy in some productive manner. It takes an incredible amount of drive and creativity to keep yourself busy while on the move. That, I think, is the key to being happy and having a good quality of life. I know 80 year olds that are as active as they can be, dispite any health issues, and they are happy as anything. I know healthy 40 year olds who don't do much of anything past thier jobs they don't like and the TV. They are as unhappy and have about as poor or a quality of life as anyone can have.

"The most depraved type of human being
is the man with no purpose"
--Atas Shrugged

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