No one in Belgium dies from lack of medical care

The IndependentBy Mena and Dave Sprague
Published: The Indepemdent, Monday, November 30, 2009 12:46 PM CST

This is part two (see 11-21-09 Independent) of our saga in seeking affordable and essential health care. It is intended to help those who have insurance but cannot afford the co-pay.

The Spragues live on the family farm and are concerned with quality of life, peace and justice issues. Central Nebraska Concerned Citizens takes up topics that affect citizens in Central Nebraska and the world. Comments and suggestions may be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dave was diagnosed with osteo-arthritis in the hips. He was told hip replacement was the only treatment. He researched treatments online and discovered hip resurfacing. Unable to pay the co-pay, he chose an overseas alternative.

We contacted World Med Assist, they made all the arrangements. It is called a Medical Tour Package. Our package included excursion airfare, transportation to and from the airport, a nine-day stay in the villa with the patient getting breakfast and lunch and the companion getting breakfast (we had to pay for beverages), pre-operation tests, two-day hospital stay, doctor’s bills, crutches, all medications, all hydrotherapy and physical therapy and medicine for aftercare.

We left our home en route to the airport, after saying goodbye to Mom and buying travelers checks. Paperless and plastic is the word in Europe. Only one foreign exchange company with several offices would convert dollars to euros.

We spent the weekend with friends in Amsterdam, visiting Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum. Our friend drove us to Ghent, Belgium. Driving country to country in Europe is like driving state to state here, no border check points.

After lunch Dave had blood work drawn, an EKG and x-rays. We met with the cardiologist, who examined Dave, read the tests and gave his OK for surgery.

Dr. De Smet answered our questions and described all types of hip surgeries, Dave chose hip resurfacing. His aura of confidence in his work was comforting. Of the over 3,200 hip resurfacing surgeries, he had to redo six. A good record.

Of the five surgeries Tuesday morning, Dave was number two. Mena took public transportation to the hospital, by 3 o’clock the buses were full with students and commuters. Dave returned to the villa Thursday morning, walking with arm crutches.

Late that afternoon, Dave is in the pool doing aquatherapy, which was very helpful to the beginning of his recovery. Daily routine at the villa included one-half hour of physical therapy and one hour of aqua-therapy. The first therapist asked if Dave did sports, we said no to sports but we have been doing yoga. She said those who do yoga have good movement after hip surgery.

Bart, a registered nurse at Villa Centro Passi, said if you lose your job and your home, you will always have free health care — no one dies in Belgium from lack of health care. Bart wondered how in America some can call health care for all socialism. He said they have free health care and are not a socialist country.

Today in America 122 Americans die daily from lack of health care. Senators Johanns and Nelson, who will not vote for a health care bill that has a hint of abortion in it, have no problem with this statistic. Interesting also is the fact the Republican National Committee’s insurance does pay for abortions for their employees.

There are four floors to the villa, with an elevator. Bottom floor is the therapy pool, therapy room, sauna, exercise room and chef’s kitchen. Next is the main floor with the doctor’s offices, examination and testing rooms. The top floor is a fine restaurant. The waiting area was packed when we arrived.

Our room is best described as a luxury suite. Overstuffed black leather furniture, large flat screen television, small refrigerator, computer desk, small dining table with two chairs. We had a queen size bed with adjustment controls. There were two cotton bathrobes with Belgium chocolates and more chocolates on our pillows greeting us.

All in all, we are impressed with World Med Assist, Dr. De Smet and the staff at Villa Centro Passi. We are pleased with the results and grateful for the support of family and friends.

A possible solution would be Medicare Part E, for everyone. Today Medicare is for those 65 and older and those on disability. Adding healthy people would only improve and stabilize Medicare. Also, there should be no Medicare Part D doughnut hole. Medicare should be allowed to buy medicine with a quantity discount like the Veterans Administration.