Fred Schuler is the type of guy you’d want to have a pitcher with within two minutes of speaking to him. He’s affable and funny –- he laughs easily and regularly –- and seems like he’d have a lot of great stories, given his peripatetic lifestyle as a professional golf caddy on the PGA and LPGA tour circuit. But ask Schuler to describe the crippling pain that took him off the green and put him into a wheelchair for two months, and you can practically hear the 61-year-old wince.
“Other than excruciating?" Schuler asked gamely. “I was living on Aleve and Tylenol. I couldn’t straighten up, I was hunched over. Toward the end I could walk 100 yards [with a cane] and then I was toast."
After living with the pain for almost four years, Schuler had few options: He was uninsured and out of a job, thanks to his debilitating disc problems. An orthopedic surgeon Schuler met at work offered to treat him for free. But upon examining his X-rays he realized Schuler’s condition was far worse than he’d thought.
“I exercised every avenue I could in terms of getting public assistance to get some medical health here and kept running into dead ends," Schuler said.
That’s when Schuler turned to a solution more post-50 Americans are considering as healthcare costs continue to rise: medical tourism.