Very often crew members ask me this question: Is it better for me to receive the medical treatment for my injuries at home, or in the United States? In most cases, the crew member is better off receiving his medical treatment at home for the following reasons:
Language and Culture
If the crew member’s mother language is not English, he made not be able to fully describe all of his symptoms to the doctor. This may affect the quality of the medical treatment he receives, and may also make him feel very uncomfortable. Even if the crew member’s mother language is English, the cultural differences may affect the quality of the medical treatment he receives.
Choice of Doctor
When the crew member receives medical treatment in the United States, the cruise line picks the doctor that will treat the crew member and/or perform surgery on him. Since the doctors that the cruise lines pick to treat the crew members receive a lot of business from the cruise lines, they may be inclined to issue opinions that are more favorable to the cruise lines than to the crew member. These unfavorable opinions can affect the crew members’ health and legal cases. For example, a company doctor could say that a crew member is perfectly well after surgery, and that he can go back to work even if the crew member still has a lot of health problems. A cruise line doctor could also say that the crew member does not need a surgery when he really does.
Monthly Maintenance Money
If a crew member receives medical treatment in the United States, the company does not have to pay him a monthly amount of money. The company only has to provide the crew member with hotel and food. Of course, the hotel and the food are of very low quality.
When the crew member receives medical treatment in the U.S.A., he is away from his family, his friends, and his lifelong surroundings for months, or even longer periods of time. These long stays at low quality hotels, eating low quality food, and surrounded by other crew members with similar problems affect the emotional health of the crew member, and slow down his recovery.
In order to diminish the value of crew members’ injuries and legal cases, the cruise lines often conduct surveillance of the crew members who are staying at hotels while receiving medical treatment. This involves filming the crew members to show that they are not as badly injured as they claim. If the crew member receives medical treatment in his home country, it is much harder and expensive for the cruise line to conduct surveillance on him.
In conclusion, if there are good doctors and good hospitals in the crew member’s country, it is better for the crew member to receive medical treatment at home for the following reasons:
- It is easier for the crew member to communicate with his doctor.
- It is easier for the crew member to pick his own doctor, and the doctor will not have as much financial incentive to favor the company.
- The crew member will receive a monthly amount of money called “maintenance” while he is receiving medical treatment at home.
- At home, the crew member will be emotionally supported by his family, his friends, and his lifelong surroundings.
- Surveillance will be less likely.