Medical Travel Today

Copyright © 2009 Medical Travel Today

Medical Travel Today is a publication of CPR Strategic Marketing Communications, a public relations firm based near New York City that specializes in healthcare and life sciences, with an international clientele. CPR, its partners, and clients are at the nexus of where medical travel is today, and where it will be tomorrow.

Publisher, Laura Carabello


From the Editor:
This week in Medical Travel Today, Amanda Haar

News in Review:
News and links from around the web and around the world...

Dan Tuman
Steve Lash

Industry News:
IMTA Membership Update

Deloitte survey casts shadow on medical tourism

CNN Focuses on Medical Travel

BlogTalkRadio Airs Story on Medical Travel

UnitedHealth Scouting for an Indian Partner

Treatment Abroad announces the appointment of its first overseas medical tourism franchisee

Companion Global Healthcare Clients May Choose Brazil for JCI-Accredited Care

Expectations too high for medical mart complex, some experts say

Americans flocking to Mexico for dental care

Medical Spotlight:

Upcoming Events:
Costa Rican Medical Care Announces Health Care Seminar

Patients Beyond Borders Author Josef Woodman to Deliver Plenary Session at CISTM 2009

Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau to Sponsor the 2009 World Medical Health Tourism Conference in Phuket

Date Set for Healthcare Travel Exhibition & Congress in Dubai: October 27-29, 2009

Privacy Policy

Attention Medical Travel Facilitators

Medical Travel Today is compiling a directory of medical travel facilitators.

If you are interested in having your organization included, please email:

There is no charge to include your organization in the directory.


Volume 3, Issue 7
by Amanda Haar, Editor


If the recent spate of press and television coverage of medical travel is any indication, it appears the industry has gone mainstream.  Look for the links to several of the most widely viewed stories from the past two weeks under INDUSTRY NEWS.

In the same section you’ll find updated information on the International Medical Travel Association’s (IMTA) updated member benefits and offerings and information on their upcoming conference.

We also have an interview with Dan Tuman, vice president of Commercial Sales at Clements International. The company recently began offering products and solutions that specifically address the unique liability issues faced by medical travel facilitators.

Finally, beginning this week our publisher, Laura Carabello, will be hosting a weekly BlogTalkRadio show every Friday at noon. She'll look at the industry's most pressing issues and talk with thought leaders.

To learn more and for this week’s call-in number, visit:  The call-in number for this week’s program is (347) 843-4818. Hope to hear from you.

As always, we welcome your comments, story ideas, and press releases.


Amanda Haar, Editor


Clements International has been a leading provider of international insurance programs to individuals and organizations living and operating abroad since 1947. More recently the company has begun crafting products that specifically address the liability issues faced by medical travel facilitators. What follows is a conversation with Dan Tuman, vice president of Commercial Sales at Clements regarding the company's philosophy and approach to the market.

Dan Tuman
VP Commercial Sales
Clements International

Medical Travel Today (MTT): Let's start with you. Tell us a bit about your background.

Dan Tuman (DT): I am the vice president of Commercial Sales for Clements International.  I have been working in the insurance industry for over 20 years. During the past nine years my focus has been solely international. Clements International was founded in 1947. We are the leading provider of international insurance programs to organizations and individuals operating outside their home country.

We have three areas of concentration: Multinational Corporations, Relief & Development Organizations, and International Schools. We are also heavily involved in providing insurance coverage for the reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We are specialist in developing products to address unique exposures. Our most recent endeavor was creating products for the medical tourism industry.

I believe I read somewhere that your product is the first insurance product specifically for medical travel providers.

DT: We are certainly one of the first to develop insurance products for this emerging industry. Two products in particular that we are excited about are Professional Liability and Personal Accident insurance.

Can you tell me a bit about its evolution—how long you've been offering it, and how well it's being received?

DT: At Clements International we are always looking for new opportunities. About two years ago, a medical tourism opportunity came to us from a contact we had in Asia that was working with a Bangkok start-up facilitator. We quickly realized that many facilitators have not thoroughly comprehended their risk.  As you know, medical travel facilitators are the portal for the entire medical tourism entity.  As the first entity in the chain of commerce, they will most likely be the first to be sued if there is a bad outcome. We contacted the Medical Tourism Association to see if we could be of assistance to them. They recommended we attend their next conference. The response from facilitators attending the conference was overwhelming. We are currently working with 20 facilitators. We have spent a lot of our time educating them on their exposures and the best insurance products to mitigate their risk.
MTT: What's been the response to your products?

DT: The response from our products has been much higher than we anticipated. Many of the facilitators have commented to us that they have been searching for insurance products that would protect their balance sheets for a long time. Medical tourism, especially in the United States, is in its infancy. The industry is trying to educate medical providers, insurance companies, self-funded employers, governments, and the general public simultaneously. The industry must do everything it can to protect and increase its credibility. Having comprehensive insurance protection in case something goes wrong is essential.

MTT: Tell me a bit about the specific products and protections you're offering.

DT: There are three main products that we offer; Professional Liability, Personal Accident, and General Liability.

The professional liability is really the core product for facilitators. Because the facilitators are the initial touch point for individuals seeking medical treatment overseas, they have more liability exposure than most believe. This policy protects against their errors and omissions caused by their negligence or misrepresentation.  The policy could be tailored to include extensions like Contingent Bodily Injury, Privacy/Breach of Confidential information to enhance coverage. These are important extensions considering the nature of the industry. An example where this may apply is if you misrepresented information about a particular hospital and, based upon your recommendation, the medical tourist selects that provider and has a bad outcome. Another claim scenario is if you fraudulently use a medical tourist personal identification that results in identity theft.

The Personal Accident policy we developed is truly unique. It provides a fixed benefit to your medical tourists in the event of a death or permanent disablement due to the medical procedure performed overseas. The coverage automatically extends to protect the medical tourist patient not just during the procedure but for accidents that may occur during the entire trip. The policy also may provide Repatriation, Return Trip Expenses (if the medical tourist needs to return overseas for follow-up treatment excluding the actual medical cost), and accidental medical expenses.   Because the Personal Accident policy is a “no-fault” policy, it can work to reduce facilitator’s professional liability exposure. In fact, underwriters have reduced the premium for Professional Liability coverage because the facilitator had a companion Personal Accident policy.

A General Liability policy is also strongly recommended. This protects facilitators against more traditional exposures such as premise liability.  

MTT: In reference to the 20 companies that you currently work with, is there a particular specialty area or location that they share in common?

Actually no, it's a combination of elective cosmetic/aesthetic surgeries and other kinds of major surgeries. There is a lot of specialization going on. That specialization could be the type of procedures they tend to facilitate, the geographic territory they send patients to, or even a specialization in the type of customers they're seeking. Some are seeking customers through major health insurance carriers, others are focused on self-funded plans, and still others are going directly to the consumer via the Internet. That's particularly true with elective and cosmetic procedures.

You now also have international facilitators that are starting to contract with foreign governments that have socialized medicine. The queues for care in those systems can be very long and not always the best care. Governments are now considering how to cut down wait time. Sending their citizens abroad for treatment is becoming a viable option. 
About Dan Tuman
Dan Tuman is the vice president of Sales for Clements International.  With over 20 years of experience in the global insurance industry, Mr. Tuman works with the Commercial Sales team to provide specialized commercial insurance to organizations working worldwide. He utilizes his CPCU designation to assist in the underwriting process for the company’s various programs. Mr. Tuman is a graduate of St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, Pa.

About Clements International
Founded in 1947, Clements International is the leading provider of international insurance programs to individuals and organizations living and operating abroad.


Steven Lash
President and CEO
Satori World Medical

In 2008, Steven Lash and a team of 10 experienced healthcare professionals launched Satori World Medical, the first global healthcare network with a specific focus on employer/plan-sponsored medical travel. And while such a targeted approach is noteworthy, what's gaining more attention is the shared savings aspect of their offering.

Through its "Health & Shared Wealth Program™" (patent-pending), Satori World Medical enables payers to share the cost savings associated with receiving care abroad with plan sponsors, employers, and for the first time, employees.

But shared savings is not the only appealing aspect of the company's offering.
Satori World Medical currently partners exclusively with JCI-accredited hospitals worldwide. Each of the 14 facilities in the Satori Global Network™ is contractually obligated to follow the same protocols, provide the same data, and file the same reports as a domestic-based hospital network. The company's Quality Assurance Program™ meets or exceeds current AMA guidelines on medical travel.

In addition to managing the financial aspects of medical travel, Satori World Medical provides all patient care coordination, including booking flights, making all hotel accommodations and travel arrangements for the patient and their companion, and coordinating follow-up care. 

Medical Travel Today recently spoke with Satori World Medical founder and CEO Steven Lash about how the company's launch is going, what obstacles they face, and his expectations for growth in the months and years ahead.

Medical Travel Today (MTT): Yours is a very diverse background. Tell me how and when you first learned about medical travel and what inspired you to start Satori World Medical?

Steven Lash (SL): In my professional career I've always been involved in healthcare. As an executive, I am concerned about the rising costs of healthcare and the economic burdens that healthcare continues to place on U.S. companies and their employees. I became aware of medical travel and once I was convinced about the real potential cost savings and high quality of care internationally, I began developing a business model that would work for a company in the same way it does for an individual. At the time, the benefits of medical travel were enjoyed by individuals: they went and they saved. Prior to Satori World Medical, the employer may not have received some of the economic benefit and the employee was not really incentivized to go. I learned about Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) and recognized that there was a tax-advantaged way to share the savings with all stakeholders (the employer, payor and employee) and make the option available to more Americans. A HRA is funded by the employer for each participating employee. Funds deposited can pay for eligible health care expenses typically covered under the medical plan. Unused funds can be carried over to the next year to cover future health care expenses.

In July of 2008 I filed a patent on our business model. By filing the patent we are assured that Satori clients and their employees will share in the savings generated through the utilization of the Satori Global Network™. We anticipate our program will lead the way in the globalization of healthcare delivery.

MTT: As I understand it, your offering works specifically with an employer’s HRA. Is that correct?

SL: Not entirely. We work with insurance companies, plan sponsors, and employers. We also anticipate including in our offering Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and other methods of sharing savings.

Currently 17% of employers offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), tax-exempt accounts where funds grow to pay for medical expenses, or HRAs coupled with a high-deductible plan. Many insurance companies have plans which offer a HRA and some employers have self-funded health plans. For those we can offer them a format for a HRA and even suggest a vendor to work with if they're interested in pursuing this model.

Self-funded employers are a main focus for us as they make their own decisions and can easily implement our medical benefit.

We've been actively marketing our company and innovative global healthcare model since January and thus far have one agreement in place with many others on the horizon. We're in deep negotiations right now with several health plans that are looking to add Satori World Medical as part of their offering. We're also close to finalizing contracts with two Third Party Administrators (TPAs) to offer our product to their large self-funded clients. 

MTT: How are you conducting your marketing?

SL: We have an internal sales force that sells directly.

I'm also involved in sales because of my strong relationships with a number of national insurance firms. I find it helps that I understand the space thoroughly. It makes it easier to understand a company’s needs and concerns and create something that works for them specifically.

Let me add that from the very beginning of the company, we built our offering to focus on the financially sponsored patient. Everything is built around the requirements of health plans for their domestic networks. We replicated that as the model for contracting with our international network.  
In addition to reaching out to groups, we are being contacted by brokerage firms, consultants and health plans. Clearly health plans that have cross-border programs are comfortable with and understand the advantages of global health care but we're seeing interest from health plans across the country. With the economy the way it is, healthcare costs going up at staggering rates, and renewals going out at 10-14%, companies must find a way to reduce healthcare costs. We provide a means to do just that in a way that works within parameters and standards they're comfortable with and understand.
We're also talking to several public sector groups and unions. They have a lot of budget issues to contend with. The most important message there, especially with unions, is that by reducing healthcare costs they're saving union jobs and keeping dollars in the U.S. This message is starting to resonate.

MTT: I realize it's early in the game, but what kind of cost savings have employer groups been able to realize?
SL: Yes, we have recently sent a patient abroad for a procedure. They saved a little over 50%. Our clients can expect to save 44-84% on high cost surgical procedures. Additionally, we do not charge any monthly recurring fees for our product.

MTT: What are the most common objections or obstacles you face in introducing your program to employer groups?
SL: I'd have to say follow-up care after undergoing surgery is an issue that’s been percolating around the industry. We field a lot of questions on that but honestly, it's not an issue for us because the patients are financially sponsored, and so there is an acceptance to treat patients by U.S. physicians. They have insurance, so we always schedule the follow up care before the patient leaves the U.S.
We also get questions about what happens if something goes wrong. All of our patients have a personal accident policy. If something happens there is a payment for that. We really built our model to take care of issues that concern people.  Once we can educate decision makers, our program is very well-received.  But it's great they're asking. It shows a level of education and understanding about medical travel that didn't exist that long ago.

MTT: Is the Health & Shared Wealth Program™ customizable by client? In other words, how much control do employers exert on how much is shared with an employee?
SL: It's totally customizable.  It's up to the financial sponsor or employer to determine the structure. We don't dictate how they share the savings. We do remind them though that it's in their best interest for employees to utilize the program.  Whatever the employer deposits in the HRA is tax-deductible, so it's a win-win.  

MTT: What are your plans for expanding your network of care beyond the existing countries you now work with?
SL: We will expand to about 20 facilities in 12 countries this year. We're looking at hospitals in Panama, and a few other hospitals in additional countries.  In looking for areas of the world to expand, we're concentrating on high quality care and for facilities that meet our rigorous standards. By maintaining certain standards and limiting the number of partners we can more effectively manage quality.  We are also in the process of adding spine, hysterectomy, bariatrics, and a few other procedures.  With these additions we will end up offering 20 high cost surgical procedures. 

Fairly soon we'll be adding a high quality cosmetic and dental network, as well. This is being done at the request by employers who would like this available for their employees.
The industry is still in its infancy and I believe that medical travel is a real and viable option for millions of Americans to access affordable high quality medical care.  

About Steven Lash
Steven Lash is a seasoned healthcare executive and entrepreneur.  He has more than 25 years of healthcare experience, including 19 years at Sharp Healthcare, San Diego’s largest healthcare delivery system.  During his tenure at Sharp Healthcare, he served as Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, as well as Executive Vice President for Institutional Care, where he was responsible for the operations of five acute hospitals, three skilled nursing facilities and the Sharp Health Plan (a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization (HMO).  Mr. Lash has been credited with providing the co-leadership in the development of Sharp Healthcare from a single hospital to a multi-hospital, multi-physician group healthcare system.  This system now serves as a model for the United States.  Following Sharp Healthcare, he joined a physician practice management company as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, where he was responsible for taking the company public.  Additionally, he has served as the Chief Executive Officer of a clinical testing company, as well as a dermatology products company.  He has founded or has been on the Board of Directors of several healthcare service start-up companies.  Mr. Lash holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton, and a MBA from the University of San Diego.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Some readers may recognize Steven Lash's name from his time with FPA Medical Management in San Diego, CA. We asked Mr. Lash to discuss his role at the company and the events that led to its dismantling and the subsequent fall out. This is how he describes it:

"Over 10 years ago due to unfortunate circumstances, FPA Medical Management filed Chapter 11 proceedings and two years later sold some of its remaining assets and ceased operations. I was Chief Financial Officer of the company. There was an FCC investigation that resulted in no charges filed. Unfortunately I was at the forefront of those events, and therefore involved in Justice Department investigations. I believe that at all times the company operated in an ethical manner and in accordance with the law and all appropriate business practices. I have put the experience behind me and am moving forward with the full confidence of my Board of Directors, management team and investors."


IMTA Membership Update

The IMTA invites hospitals and provider organizations involved in medical travel and global care to become members.  The IMTA represents many of the world’s leading medical travel brands, and is run by credible, experienced and trusted healthcare professionals.

Members are actively involved in developing guidelines and initiatives that promote quality, patient safety and continuity of care, and enjoy the benefits of working with colleagues to move the industry forward. 

Become a member and join us in Singapore for Healthcare Travel Congress, June 28-30, 2009, to learn about new IMTA initiatives, strategies and partnerships.

The IMTA is THE platform and voice for medical travel and global healthcare. 


  • Be associated with the most respected unified voice in Medical Travel and Global Healthcare.


  • Join IMTA to develop solutions that advance  global healthcare.
  • Advocacy for the medical travel global healthcare communities.


  • Opportunity to network with industry leaders in global healthcare and form meaningful working relationships.
  • Access to communication with industry insiders.


  • Invitation to participate in regular meetings and discussions as well as online forums regarding global healthcare initiatives.


  • Access to white papers and articles written by global healthcare leaders and IMTA members. 


  • Rebates and discounts for selected global healthcare conferences and seminars, including the officially-sponsored Health Care Globalization Summits (USA) and Healthcare Travel 2009 (Singapore).


  • Hospitals or clinics focused on medical travel or global healthcare
  • Private and public hospital and healthcare associations
  • Ministries of Health; Ministries of Travel and Tourism
  • Insurers, TPAs and any affiliated third-party carriers “going global”
  • Healthcare travel facilitators
  • Healthcare quality assurance organizations
  • Companies or associations involved in health and wellness travel

For more information on membership, visit the IMTA website ( or email Ms. Felcia Tan at

Deloitte survey casts shadow on medical tourism

International Medical Travel Journal today published an interesting summary of the findings of the “2009 Deloitte Survey of Healthcare Consumers.” The survey finds a favorable shift in consumer opinions of medical travel. To read the story, click here.

CNN Focuses on Medical Travel

Rudy Rupak, co-founder and president of PlanetHospital, was kind enough to share the following link to a CNN video clip featuring Sanjay Gupta, M.D. Click here to watch.

The piece focuses on the logistics, quality issues, and even the ethical issues related to receiving care in India.

A companion print story can be viewed at this link

BlogTalkRadio Airs Story on Medical Travel
On March 23, Lisa Smith, host of BlogTalkRadio, featured a story on one patient's journey to Trinidad for prostate surgery. The case illustrates the practicality of the mobile surgical model developed by Mobile Surgery International (MSI) and hints at implications for patients, payors, and hospitals. Both the patient and his physician, Arnon Krongrad, M.D., of the Krongrad Institute are featured in the piece.
You can CLICK HERE to hear the discussion.

UnitedHealth Scouting for an Indian Partner
From Indian Times by Harsimran Singh & Khomba Singh, Economic Times Bureau

NEW DELHI: UnitedHealth Group, the biggest U.S. health insurer, is scouting for an Indian partner to set up a standalone health insurance joint venture (JV) in the country. The proposed venture would pitch UnitedHealth Group against other global rivals Bupa and DKV Group, which has recently entered India hoping to tap the highly underpenetrated local health insurance market.

India’s health care insurance market is at a nascent stage with only 2 percent of the country’s 1.1 billion population having health insurance coverage.

"We are actively looking for an Indian partner and have already shortlisted some names. The JV should be launched in 2009. We are very bullish on India as a market that has huge underpenetration for health care insurance," UnitedHealth Group's executive vice present, David Wichman, told The Economic Times (ET). He declined to disclose the names of the possible partners.

In 2008, the United States’s largest health insurer company had revenues of $81 billion in 2008. These include revenues from premium collection, services , products, and other investments.

Under current foreign direct investment (FDI) norms, foreign companies can hold only up to 24 percent stake in health insurance, and the rest 74 percent has to be owned by an Indian partner. Other global health insurers such as U.S.-based Aetna, Inc. and Cigna Healthcare are also reportedly looking at an Indian foray, while some have already set up operations.

In 2007, the country’s largest hospital chain, Apollo Hospitals, forayed into the segment with a 76:24 JV with German health insurer DKV. Last year, Max Healthcare formed a similar JV with U.K.-based insurer BUPA to enter the health insurance market. The third player, Chennai-based Star Health and Allied Insurance, is also a JV between Oman insurance company ETA Ascon and a group of insurance veterans from India.

Malvinder Singh, who co-owns hospital chain Fortis Healthcare and financial services firm Religare,which offers life insurance, had earlier told ET that he is also mulling an entry into the segment, as it complements his existing businesses. This could be through a JV.

Consultants who advise insurance firms say more international players are expected to come to India once the sector opens up further. A government proposal to increase the FDI limit in insurance sector from 24 percent to 49 percent is awaiting approval.

UnitedHealth Group has already had a presence in India for the past three years. It operates a captive business process outsourcing unit in Gurgaon employing about 2,000 people. The Gurgaon facility includes two business units -- IT Operations (ITO) and Healthcare Business Services (HBS).

Treatment Abroad announces the appointment of its first overseas medical tourism franchisee

Treatment Abroad, part of Intuition Communication Ltd and the leading providers of online information for medical tourism, has appointed its first overseas franchisee -- the In Malta Online Group, which will operate the Treatment in Malta Web site.

The new site will be aimed at inbound medical tourists to Malta. The In Malta Online Group currently operates a number of online services and has invested in the franchise to expand its range of Malta-based Web portals into the health care market.

Intuition Communication is the company behind several leading health information portals including Treatment Abroad, Private Healthcare UK, the Harley Street Guide, and OHS Directory.

The In Malta Group is the first franchisee that Intuition Communication has appointed. The new Web site will follow the successful Intuition business model and reflect the branding and content of Intuition’s other medical tourism portals such as: Treatment In Cyprus, Treatment In Spain, Treatment In Hungary, and the recently launched Treatment In India.

Intuition Communication will work closely with the In Malta Online Group and provide web technology, business development, marketing, and operational support to set up the Web site to ensure its success once it goes live.

Keith Pollard, who runs Intuition Communication, says, “Franchising our business model and brand is a logical step for us in expanding our business, particularly into overseas markets.  We see this as an opportunity to grow our revenues by licensing our technology and business model to Web businesses and health care operators in other countries that wish to develop health information portals or medical tourism content.

Franchising will enable us to benefit from the use of local sales and marketing franchisees to achieve these revenues. We are looking for businesses who, like the In Malta Online Group, want to extend existing Web businesses or set up new Web ventures, whilst minimizing the investment required to develop and set up such a site.  Our franchise will offer them the expertise, knowledge, and ongoing support to build a successful portal within the health information sector of their own country.”

Companion Global Healthcare Clients May Choose Brazil for JCI-Accredited Care

Columbia, S.C. – Medical travel facilitator Companion Global Healthcare Inc. announced today that it has accepted Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo, Brazil, into its international network of accredited hospitals that treat American patients at affordable rates.

The announcement means Companion Global Healthcare’s individual clients and employer group members may choose Albert Einstein, along with any other network hospital, for surgery or other treatment at a fraction of the price typically charged by U.S. hospitals.

Albert Einstein hospital offers a variety of surgical services, including cardiac and orthopedic. It has held the prestigious Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation since 1999, and has specialized in treating international patients for more than 15 years.

Companion Global Healthcare (, based in Columbia, S.C., is a full-service medical travel firm that helps clients arrange travel to its network hospitals, set appointments with physicians, transfer medical records to their hospital of choice, and arrange follow-up care in the United States. The company serves uninsured and underinsured individuals, and contracts with self-insured employers and insurance companies that offer a global care option in their benefit plans.

Rates at Companion Global Healthcare network hospitals are up to 90 percent less than those at U.S. hospitals, meaning individuals and self-insured employers can save tens of thousands of dollars on a single procedure.

Companion Global Healthcare’s network includes 16 hospitals in India, Costa Rica, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, Ireland, Taiwan, Mexico, and Brazil. All network hospitals are JCI accredited, and all have completed Companion Global Healthcare’s extensive credentialing process.

“We are pleased to welcome Albert Einstein hospital into our network,” Companion Global Healthcare president David Boucher says. “The facility is state-of-the-art, and it has a well-deserved reputation for upholding high standards of care and welcoming international patients.”

Henrique Sutton de Sousa Neves, Albert Einstein hospital’s CEO, adds, “Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein was a pioneer in international medicine as the first hospital outside the United States to be accredited by the Joint Commission.We have been treating international patients for more than 15 years, so our staff understands their needs and expectations.

“We are excited about this partnership with Companion Global Healthcare because it shares our vision of excellence and respect in patient care.” 

About Companion Global Healthcare
Companion Global Healthcare Inc. provides assistance to clients who travel to its network hospitals, serving as a single launch point for appointments, travel arrangements, case management, medical travel insurance, follow-up care in the United States, and help with claims filing.

The company serves uninsured and underinsured individuals, as well as employers and insurance companies that have included the Companion Global Healthcare network in their benefit plans. Employer groups interested in restructuring their benefit plans to include Companion Global Healthcare’s network and services should call 1-800-906-7065.

Expectations too high for medical mart complex, some experts say
by Jim Nichols, Plain Dealer reporter

CLEVELAND -- Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. (MMPI) president Christopher Kennedy proclaims his company's plan for a taxpayer-funded medical mart and convention center here would turn Cleveland into "a Disney World for doctors."

Yet some medical-industry insiders and convention-world experts wonder whether MMPI's business plan for its partnership with Cuyahoga County isn't as fanciful as a Disney fairy tale.

The predictions for success -- which include nearly $1 billion a year in local economic benefits -- are based on assumptions that skeptical observers say are optimistic at best and grossly bloated at worst.

A potential consequence: the actual boost to the region could turn out to be a small fraction of the annual $990 million economic-impact turbocharge that has been forecast.
For the rest of the story, click here.

Americans flocking to Mexico for dental care
By Dan Bowman, Chicago Tribune
Similar to the medical tourism that has grown so popular in places like India and Thailand, Mexico has recently started becoming a hot spot for Americans to go to receive dental work on the cheap, reports the Chicago Tribune. The town of Los Algodones -- on the U.S.-Mexico border just south of Yuma, Ariz. -- has a population of only 4,000 people, but harbors 350 dentists who all specialize in foreign patients. 

While American medical authorities fear for patients because of the lack of regulation --meaning some providers won't be punished for shoddy service -- discounts on the cost of care can be as much as 70 percent, or more. One reason for the high costs in the United States, some experts say, is the fear of a malpractice suit. 

Kevin Earle, executive director for the Arizona Dental Association, said he and his colleagues worry about patients who cross the border to receive care. He recounted one instance where a patient who received treatment in Mexico came to a hospital "bleeding heavily from the mouth" because the dentist did not take into account that the patient was on a blood thinner. 

Carlos Rubio, one of the more highly-regarded dentists in Los Algodones, worries that such incidents and less-professional dentists will only worsen the town's reputation. 

"Wherever you go -- London, Canada, Chicago -- you're going to find the best, the average, and the bad," Rubio says. "We are no exception. Sadly, there are too many businessmen taking advantage of this phenomenon, who will say ‘Do you want to work with me? How well do you work -- who cares?'" 

For more on Los Algodones:- read this Chicago Tribune story


Hysterectomy is the most common non-obstetrical procedure for women in the United States with an average of 600,000 performed annually.*

Fibroids are the number one reason for a hysterectomy followed by abnormal uterine bleeding, endometriosis, and uterine prolapse. Hysterectomies are also performed for cancers and pre-cancers but account for only 10 percent of the procedures performed.

Today, hysterectomies can be performed a number of different ways. The most common procedures include:

- Total abdominal or "open" hysterectomy is the "traditional" hysterectomy. The most common hysterectomy, it involves removal of the uterus and cervix (with or without removal of the ovaries or fallopian tubes) through a large abdominal incision and requires a stay of three to six days in the hospital and up to six weeks of recovery time. This is the most invasive type of hysterectomy and may be recommended in the instances of large fibroids, severe endometriosis, and for some types of cancer.

- Vaginal hysterectomies remove the uterus completely through the vagina. This method is often chosen to treat uterine-vaginal prolapse and early cervical or uterine cancer. This procedure requires a hospital stay of one to three days and recovery time of approximately two weeks.

- Laparoscopically-assisted vaginal hysterectomy (LAVH) is similar to a vaginal hysterectomy in that the uterus and cervix are removed through an incision deep inside the vagina. However, this procedure involves the use of a laparoscope inserted through a small incision in the navel. 
Sometimes referred to as a "keyhole hysterectomy," this procedure has similar hospital stay and recovery periods as vaginal procedures.

  United States Thailand Singapore India
Hysterectomy $20,000 $4,500 $6,000 $3,000
Source: AMA, June 2007        
  United States UK India  
LA Hysterectomy $22,000 $24,000 $4,000  
Source: Wockhardt Hospitals        

* Source: The National Women’s Health Information Center, CDC

Is there a topic you'd like to see covered in our MEDICAL SPOTLIGHT? Please let us know. Send your thoughts to


Costa Rican Medical Care Announces Health Care Seminar
"More than 100,000 medical tourists, most of them Americans, are expected to travel to Costa Rica over the next five years solely for the benefit of less expensive medical services," says the Costa Rican Ministry of Tourism.

Lake Geneva, Wis. (PRWEB) March 15, 2009 -- Costa Rican Medical Care (CRMC), a division of HSA Clearing Corp, will be sponsoring a health care seminar in San Jose, Costa Rica, May 12 and 13, 2009.
Health care costs in the United States have exploded in the past few years, but the same procedures are very affordable in Costa Rica. Many people and/or employers who have to pay out of pocket don't realize they have other options that can keep them healthy and save money at the same time. Working with the finest private hospitals and physicians in Costa Rica, CRMC will help people save hundreds if not thousands of dollars on certain medical care procedures. 
"The propose of this seminar is for insurance company executives, employee benefit mangers, health insurance agents, third-party administrators, and other interested parties to experience first-hand the hospitals and physicians and meet some of their staff. Once people see the quality of the healthcare Costa Rica has to offer, they will be comfortable working with us and recommending our services to their clients," says Tim Morales, president of HSA Clearing Corp. "The only way to bring down health care costs in this country is to show people what prices are elsewhere and let them compare."
A Costa Rican Ministry of Tourism representative adds, "More than 100,000 medical tourists, most of them Americans, are expected to travel to Costa Rica over the next five years solely for the benefit of less expensive medical services."
Seminar Price
Only $899.00 and includes:
Four nights at the Best Western Irazu Hotel and Casino. Check in Monday, May 11, 2009.  Check out Friday, May 15, 2009. Breakfast included daily. Air fare  not included.
First 50 people to sign up receive a $100 discount - pay only $799. Bring a spouse, friend, or co-worker to share your room for an additional $125 added to the four-night price.
Who Should Attend?

  • Employee Benefit Advisors
  • HR Managers
  • Insurance Executives
  • Health Agents
  • TPAs
  • HSA Providers

Self Insured Firms
For more information on attending this event, visit or call HSA Clearing Corp at 262-348-1300.

Patients Beyond Borders Author Josef Woodman to Deliver Plenary Session at CISTM 2009

Chapel Hill, N.C. (PRWEB) March 23, 2009 -- Josef Woodman, president and CEO of Healthy Travel Media, has been selected to be a featured expert panelist at the 11th Conference of the International Society of Travel Medicine (CISTM). The conference, which historically attracts up to 2,000 delegates from 50 countries, will be held in Budapest, Hungary, May 24-28, 2009. Plenary sessions throughout the 4-day event will highlight issues of global healthcare and medical tourism, with noted speakers and industry leaders from around the world.

Woodman's plenary session, entitled "Globalized Healthcare and Medical Tourism: Definition, Scope, Impact, and Players" is slated for Monday, May 25, 9:00-10:30 a.m. Woodman will address new trends in medical tourism vis-à-vis globalized healthcare, including emergent issues related to insurers and employers, liability/malpractice, quality-assurance metrics, continuity of care, and telemedicine.

As the author of Patients Beyond Borders, Woodman spent more than three years touring 100 medical facilities in 14 countries, researching contemporary medical tourism. The co-founder of MyDailyHealth and Ventana Communications, with a pioneering background in health, wellness, and Web technology, Woodman has compiled a wealth of information about global health travel, telemedicine, and new developments in consumer and institutional medical care. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Global Healthcare Summit, and as program co-chairman of the Global Healthcare Congress 2009. He has lectured at Harvard Medical School and the UCLA School of Public Health. Woodman has emerged as an outspoken advocate of global consumer healthcare and medical travel.

About International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM)
Founded in 1991, the mission of the ISTM is the promotion of healthy and safe medical travel. The organization advocates and facilitates education, service, and research activities in the field of travel medicine. Its current roster of more than 2,300 members in 75 countries includes physicians, nurses, and other health professionals from academia, government, and the private sector. For more information about ISTM, please visit:

The society's 11th Annual Conference will bring together 2,000 members and special delegates to cover a range of topics from "Globalized Health Care and Medical Tourism" to "The Risks and Rewards of Travel Medicine" and "Aviation Emergencies in the Air." Additional information on the conference can be found at

Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau to Sponsor the 2009 World Medical Health Tourism Conference in Phuket

Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) is set to sponsor the World Medical Health Tourism Conference: A New Way Forward, which will be held in Phuket, Thailand, September 2009.

TCEB’s participation and sponsorship in this internationally diverse networking event will aim to promote Thailand on an international scale as a medical tourism destination and a preferred venue for international meeting, incentive, convention, and exhibition (MICE) events.

The whole of Phuket Island is getting behind the conference, which will cater to more than 1,200 delegates. Local supporters range from local community groups, tourism operators, and many of the major hoteliers and resort owners, namely Woraburi Phuket Resort, Millennium Resort Patong, The Moevenpick Resort, Karon Beach Resort of Kata Group, Aquamarine Resort, Cape Panwa Hotel, and Andaman Seaview Hotel group.

Phuket, dubbed as the medical tourism hub in Asia, is the ideal location to hold the conference because of its infrastructure, capacity to host a massive number of international guests, and the availability of cutting-edge technology and internationally trained medical experts manning their world-class medical facilities.

Sometime within the next month the floor plan or layout for exhibitors at the venue, Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa, will be published online and application forms will be available for the exhibitors to download from the Web site. Many pre-conference and post-conference activities have been planned for the conference, which early estimates expect to bring a windfall to Phuket of about $10 million over the two-week period. Interested parties are advised to visit the conference website: for more information.

Alternatively, for more information call + (66)76-289-800, to request a printable registration brochure by email or

Date Set for Healthcare Travel Exhibition & Congress in Dubai: October 27-29, 2009

With the healthcare travel industry poised to play an important part in Dubai's growth strategy, the Institute for International Research (IIR) Middle East, the organizers of the first medical tourism conference in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which concluded in Dubai, recently have reported high levels of interest from a potentially huge international market.

"Research unveiled at the event indicated a global market of around two million medical travelers a year and an industry constrained by hospital capacity and lack of consumer familiarity with medical travel," says Sietske Meerloo, marketing manager at IIR Middle East and organizer of Healthcare Travel Exhibition & Congress.
IIR Middle East is also the organizer of the Arab Health Exhibition and Congress, the region's premier event for Middle East healthcare that takes place in Dubai 27-29, October, 2009.

“Large numbers of hospitals and clinics around the world are attempting to tailor their health services to cater to medical tourists," Meerloo added. "Several major insurance companies offer a travel component in their policies, and governments are looking closely at policies to take account of the trend."

The health care event was officially opened by Haidar Al Yousuf, M.D., transition director at the Dubai Health Authority, who highlighted the importance the Authority is placing on the future of medical tourism. 

"As we look to develop our domestic health strategy, we also want to develop a joint strategy with our colleagues in the Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), for the future of health tourism in Dubai," says Dr. Al Yousuf. "The health care sector in Dubai will become an increasingly attractive place for international health care investors, providers, services, facilities, and other health care professionals."

PlanetHospital, a California-based leader in medical tourism, used the event as a platform to announce the official opening of its Jeddah Saudi Arabia office to serve inbound and outbound medical tourists from the Arabian Gulf region.

"The Gulf has the potential to drive growth in medical tourism," says Mohammed Alarifi, managing director for the new operation.  "It is not only a destination from where patients seek medical care abroad but is also becoming a medical tourism destination itself thanks to major hospital developments throughout the region."

The American Hospital Dubai also had high visibility at the event. There was "a lot of exchange of experience among colleagues from around the world," says Naser Saleh, director of marketing and sales. “On the conference side, the sessions were very informative."

Gary Miller, CEO of Health Travel TV, says the event had been important for them. "We have a unique product, and we’re the only broadcast media here dedicated to this area. I’m coming back to Arab Health in January."

Organized in association with the International Medical Travel Association, the Healthcare Travel Exhibition and Congress was supported by the UAE Ministry of Health and the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi. Platinum sponsors were Singapore Medicine. Gold sponsors were the American Hospital Dubai and Dubai Health Authority.
For details about Arab Health events, please visit:



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Medical Tourism Board for Penang to promote hospitals overseas
A Medical Tourism Board will be set up in Penang to help promote its hospitals overseas, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai on Saturday.

Medical tourism: Have illness, will travel
(CNN) -- Medical tourism is one of the hottest topics in healthcare as patients around the world are increasingly traveling abroad for treatment.

Josef Woodman, author of Patients Beyond Borders, a guide to medical tourism, told CNN that two to three million people travel outside their home country for treatment each year, while consultancy firm Deloitte calculates that 750,000 Americans traveled

South Korean government eager for piece of medical tourism pie
By Channel NewsAsia's Korea Bureau Chief Lim Yun Suk

SEOUL: Many South Korean pop stars and actors have gained popularity, mainly across Asia, for their looks. And that is why for several years now, foreigners have started to flock to South Korea to get plastic surgery. The South Korean government is now eager to pursue this further, and wants a piece of the huge medical tourism pie.

Copyright © 2009 Medical Travel Today

Editor’s Note: The information in Medical Travel Today and Your Medical Travel is believed to be accurate, but in some instances, may represent opinion or judgment.  The newsletter’s providers do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any of the information and shall not be liable for any loss or damage caused – directly or indirectly – by or from the information.  All information should be considered a supplement to – and not a substitute for – the care provided by a licensed healthcare provider or other appropriate expert.  The appearance of advertising in this newsletter should in no way be interpreted as a product or service endorsement by the newsletter’s providers.


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