What Are the Risks of Medical Tourism?

Medical tourism scams target a $20 billion global industry.

Everyone knows that the cost of health insurance in the United States and certain other countries is out of control. The waiting time for non-elective surgery in countries even with government-funded national health insurance is significant. That, combined with widespread prohibitions on unconventional procedures, is why patients and potential patients are turning to private, overseas care in increasing numbers. And that, in turn, paves the way for medical tourism scams.

In addition, many smaller countries simply do not have the medical infrastructure to provide more sophisticated, specialized care. Their citizens have no other option apart from seeking the type of treatment they require abroad.

Of course, many clinics catering to foreign patients are indeed legitimate. They have licenses granted by local medical authorities. Moreover, they can cost much less due to real disparities in economic gaps between countries. Even medical insurance providers understand that they can save money for their policyholders — and themselves — by underwriting procedures performed abroad.

The Parallel Industry of Medical Tourism Scams

Unfortunately, a parallel scam industry now exists as well. Medical tourism scams run the gamut from transplant surgery to cosmetic surgery. Reconstructive surgery to experimental surgery. Stem cell treatments to fertility treatments. Not to mention pharmaceuticals, alternative medicines, dentistry, and cancer therapies.

One of the reasons why these scams flourish is that attempts to regulate international medical tourism or certify their facilities are far and few between. A few non-profit supervisory organizations do exist in North America and Great Britain, but their global impact is limited. Many if not most people who are desperate to seek medical solutions abroad do not even know about them.

Another factor is that in many of the countries that are magnets for unconventional medical tourism, scammers can obtain professional credentials and institutional licenses through fraud or in exchange for bribes. The framed diplomas in the waiting room may look real and may even be real. But they are not necessarily a guarantee that the procedures the clinic offers meet even the minimal accepted standards you would expect back home.

In other cases, the practitioners and facilities may be fully certified locally, even though the services they provide would not be permitted in industrialized Western countries.

Can You Get Your Money Back?

Did you pay for treatment at a foreign clinic and are unsatisfied with the results? Or do you think the clinic where you underwent the procedure deceived you outright? Or did your condition deteriorate due to unsanitary conditions in the facility? If so, getting your money back on your own is almost impossible. Who do you sue? And can you even afford to do so?

Moreover, filing a lawsuit in a foreign court is a daunting task. First, you have to pay the cost of a local attorney (assuming you could find one who specializes in malpractice who you can trust). Then you have to pay court costs. And travel costs, since you will have to return there at least once to submit testimony. You may also have to submit a police complaint as well. And pay for a court-certified translator. Moreover, it will take time before a trial can proceed. By that time the defendants can successfully relocate to another jurisdiction.

If you arranged your treatment abroad through a medical travel agency, you can consider suing them. That will probably cost more and take at least as long before a verdict is reached. One Nigerian man living in Britain, however, decided to do just that. His wife died of peritonitis and multi-organ failure after undergoing liposuction in Turkey. Nonetheless, his London-based Turkish attorney advises: “I warn everyone who wants to book surgery in Turkey not use an agent firm, speak to your surgeon directly, speak to their patients and never pay for a package deal of flights, hotel, surgery, etc.”

But if your objective is to get your money back, you can also file for a chargeback. The process can be complicated, which is why you require the professional assistance that MyChargeBack can provide.

If you think you’ve been the victim of a medical tourism scam, consult with the fund recovery experts at MyChargeBack.