EFAM | Escape From America Magazine

Medical Tourism Fraud Exposed

Medical Tourism Exposé. Beware of bogey promoters

Medical Tourism.  It’s about matching your medical and dental needs with the most qualified providers, right?  Or is the patient outcome secondary to making the sale? Expose

Travel agents masquerading as medical tourism facilitators

Travel agents have no business trying to do the match-making.  Match-making by means of searching for “best deals” price-wise does not serve the patient well.  Agents don’t have the expertise medical and health care professionals bring to the table to control the delivery of the service.

What a travel agent can do is wrap a vacation tour around your medical travel, and even then they need to be subject experts in the specific needs of medical travelers.

Convention Bureaus promoting city destinations

Convention bureaus and their marketing partners are promoting city medical services to tourists on the basis of inexpensive procedures and accommodations wrapped in a vacation package.

Some may say that’s all right; certainly promoters and marketers with something to gain by the sale think that’s all right.

I understand it’s the job of convention bureaus to drive business to their cities.  Nevertheless, that practice puts the burden of selecting a doctor or dentist on the patient who does not have the expertise to make an informed decision when it comes to choosing a doctor, dentist, or medical facility and often will choose on the price of a medical vacation package on the assumption that all doctors or hospitals are equal in terms of patient outcome.

A doctor is a doctor, right?  No.  Not all doctors practicing the same medical discipline are alike.  Their differences in practice and expertise as well as credentials and honors received within their medical specialty are highly indicative of the patient experience and satisfaction.

A hospital is a hospital, they’re all the same, right?  No.  Hospitals, like doctors, are rated and ranked within their professions by persons qualified to have an opinion.  Just as not all doctors finished first in their class, not all hospitals rate equally when compared to others.

And this is part of the research a patient must do; or they have to rely on a qualified medical tourism facilitator who has done that work for them.  This is not something that can or will be done by a travel agent or a convention bureau.

For example, in a recent press release it was announced that a medical tourism association partnered with the Las Vegas Convention Bureau to write a guide attracting medical tourists to Las Vegas.

The problem is the low ranking of the medical services in Las Vegas as of 2010.  And since we’re talking about your health, I suggest you read the following articles describing the problems with that location.  This is not intended to ding Las Vegas, but to illustrate the point that not all hospitals are equal and that a patient is wise to get help from a medical professional when choosing a destination and a medical provider.

A breakthrough in Medical Transparency / Do No Harm: State of Hospitals in Las Vegas.

“There’s a running joke about hospitals here:

“Where do you go for great health care in Las Vegas?”

“The airport.”

Las Vegas Valley hospitals politely shamed into improving

“A coalition of 24 self-funded insurance plans is urging Las Vegas hospitals to improve their quality of care — which is ranked as some of the worst in the nation — to earn the business of its 260,000 patients.”

Click here to read more on Las Vegas for Medical Tourism.

Traveling 4 Health & Retirement member, Kristin Eckland, contributed to this medical tourism report.  Eckland is a certified nurse practitioner and  author of three books on medical tourism.  Click to read Ecklands blog on the same issue.

Whether you want to live abroad or travel overseas for medical treatments, Traveling 4 Health Retirement can help you find the global medical resources catering to Americans and Canadians.  Our “Find a Doctor” section displays lists of medical tourism facilitators recommenced by the membership.

About the author: Ilene Little is CEO of Traveling for Health and Retirement.  She writes all of the content for the EscapeArtist Medical Tourism Blog

 

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4 Comments

  1. Taras Kuzin November 15, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with what’s been said here. Not being as vocal about this as some other folks, I never wrote or spoke about travel agencies specializing in regular tourism taking on the medical component. Can travel agencies integrate into medical tourism industry? Absolutely! Having said that, it will require not only visiting hospitals but acquiring medical knowledge. Some travel agents could higher medical personnel. Some may already have folks who would require minimal training, because they already come from the medical field. In all cases, travel agencies will have to go through a steep learning curve. Trust me, because we know it first hand!

  2. Russ Saupe January 2, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    The concept of Medical Tourism may be quite legitimate and a great idea in the current economic climate. But be advised there are already internet fraud specialists who have devised ways to victimize people under the guise of this industry.

    Out of the Fort Pierce / Port St Lucie area of Florida come a husband/wife team named Fred Siller (aka Frederico Gustavo) and Lorena Siller (aka Lorena Ortiz aka Lorena Ortiz-Siller aka Lorena Kay aka Lori Burns) who have devised various websites claiming that they run a group known as the New Life Medical Tourism Group. They attempt to hire people as agents to recruit potential patients to have medical and dental procedures performed in Colombia or Panama at a fraction of the normal cost that they would incur in the USA. For only $595 these new agents are provided with all the brochures, training materials, business cards, a company email address and more and are all set to earn a whopping 8% commission. The only catch is Fred (Frederico) and Lorena aren’t affiliated with any doctors, dentists or hospitals in either Colombia or Panama and they can provide no real leads to potential patients. They’ve never worked in the medical field. They are scam artists working out of a Goin Postal PO Box in Fort Pierce. It probably costs them $10 to print the materials they send for a tidy $585 profit.

    This is just one of about 5 or 6 internet scams they have in the works. The others include:
    Profit with Fred
    Cruise2Cash
    Roadway to Riches
    Hand of Heaven
    Frelo Latin Wear
    Most are internet pyramid schemes, one (Hand of Heaven) has a religious twist to it. Frelo Latin Wear is an internet clothing line they are trying to get off the ground. Clothing that will never arrive. Anyone who sends these people money will never see it again. Simply do a Google search on their names and aliases for more details of their scams.

  3. Mark February 9, 2012 at 7:00 am

    I needed minor surgery and didn’t have health insurance, so I looked into medical travel. Costa Rican hospitals got a lot of glowing write ups, however, believe it or not, it was way more expensive. I was shocked on how expensive it was in Costa Rica, and after flight, hotel, and other costs it blew my socks off. Many Latin American hospitals have “gringo” charges which the locals don’t get. I found a surgery center that was a 2 hour drive from me with fixed rates. Had the procedure done, flat rate and no surprises, the cost was about 1 years premiums for health insurance.
    What kill the US medical is when you go to a hospital and all their “hidden” cost and the gauntlet of test they run to jack up the bill.

  4. Russ Saupe June 7, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    The New Life Medical Tourism Group mentioned above now goes by the name De Varano Medical Tourism or De Varano Medico. But they are still the same old scam operated by Fred Siller and his wife Lerena Ortiz Siller. Send them money and you will never see it again.

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