Each year, countless people take part in medical tourism, seeking treatments that aren’t approved back home. Access to specialist-driven procedures and high-quality facilities isn’t the only reason why individuals travel to a foreign country to get health care. Some do it because of the increasing out-of-pocket medical costs and lack of health insurance.
Health tourism is a multi-billion industry, and it’s expected to keep growing. Owing to the growth in medical tourism, some employers and insurance companies have fostered relationships with hospitals in other countries to try to control the costs associated with healthcare. Even large medical schools have developed initiatives in this respect.
More often than not, medical tourists take advantage of their stay in a foreign country to travel for pleasure. Put simply, patients get the pleasure of a beautiful holiday. When dealing with matters of health, it’s recommended to proceed with great care and attention. Swimming is out of the question if the incisions aren’t entirely closed.
If you need to undergo a complicated medical procedure, you might be contemplating the idea of going overseas. Health tourism isn’t without risk. Even if the medical procedure goes smoothly, medical tourism still raises issues of concern. Before you go, familiarize yourself with the legal risks involved. Here’s what to consider before engaging in medical tourism.
Before You Sign the Agreement, Check for The Accuracy of The Details
Health tourism facilitators develop and have their own contracts available for patients. Services include handling sensitive personal health and financial information. The standard contract terms define the specific services offered by the facilitator, not to mention the services the destination provider’s staff are responsible for. Before signing on the dotted line, check the accuracy of the information. To be more precise, make sure the details aren’t misleading.
A thorough examination of the legal agreement is vital before it’s signed. Understand the terms and conditions placed and the risks involved in the procedure. As a rule, patients have to sign a release or waiver agreement that explains the risks involved.
According to the experts at Medical Negligence Law, there’s no reason to worry because you can still file a medical malpractice claim and demand compensation if something goes wrong. If you were given a waiver to sign without a word from the doctor or someone else explaining the situation, you can argue the consent was uninformed.
It’s essential to review any contract that you receive cautiously. It may contain exclusive jurisdiction clauses that exclude home courts from hearing disputes under the contract. Have a lawyer look over the agreement and make sure all the terms included are legal and lawful. By signing a clear contract, you prevent legal issues from arising in the future. Besides advising you on the risks involved with the contract, a lawyer will tell you what it means to go forward. It’s best to seek legal advice.
Know Your Rights If a Doctor Commits Malpractice in Your Case
Complications and errors can arise as a result of medical tourism procedures. Malpractice materializes as negligence or an act of omission. What happens is that medical providers deviate from the accepted practices within their profession, therefore, harming patients. As a medical tourist, you have the right to seek legal recourse. Medical malpractice claims involve any of the following:
- Failure of duty of care
- Failure to uphold the standard of practice
- Care that results in physical/financial/psychological cost
The problem is that there’s no regulating body to which you can report your concerns. In other words, no standards have been created to address the issue of medical malpractice. Seeking justice in a system where victims are invisible feels impossible. Don’t give up hope just yet. If the treatment provided caused you harm or injury, you can sue for damages by bringing a claim for medical malpractice.
Attention needs to be paid to the fact that malpractice awards, even when they’re awarded, are lower compared to the amounts received back home. You won’t be fully compensated for your losses, but it’s better than nothing. There are logistical difficulties to be aware of. More exactly, you have to hire a lawyer and be present in the court for legal proceedings, so you might have to prolong your stay. Some foreign countries don’t allow lawyers to work on a contingency basis.
Figure Out What Amount You’re Allowed to Deduct on Your Taxes
You have to disclose all relevant information relating to the transactions you make overseas. Medical expenses may provide tax benefits. You have to obey the same rules as everyone else who seek medical care back home. There are some striking differences, needless to say, regarding the types of expenses incurred. For instance, you may need more time to recover or help from a caregiver.
If you have reason to believe that you’ve made a mistake, you have to change your filing status, correct your income, and change your deductions. You’ll be notified immediately if you file your taxes electronically. Penalties typically apply to people who make errors that lead them to underplay their taxes. If you owe tax, you’ll have to pay it. Maybe you can’t afford to do this in a lump sum. If this is the case, there are options, such as spreading the sum over a period of more than one year.
Getting back on topic, to deduct the cost of health tourism, your expenses have to qualify as medical expenses, not personal or vacation expenses. Examples include costs incurred for the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of an illness. Acupuncture is an allowable expense. If you pay trips to the chiropractor, know that this alternative treatment is deductible. To enjoy the potential tax benefit, you must have allowable medical expenses that surpass 10 percent of the adjusted gross income.
All in all, there are legal challenges to medical travel. Just as you would do with a normal vacation, do your homework. Find a reputable doctor and make sure that they’ve been accredited by an organization that works to improve patient safety and health care quality. You need to get a follow-up appointment if something goes wrong, even if your travel expenses become sky-high.
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