Medical Tourism Traps for the Unwary Provider
In today’s video, we discuss one of the big traps that a healthcare provider in the U.S. can run into when trying to expand its clientele by positioning itself to take advantage of the growing trend of medical tourism and seeing patients from abroad.
Hi everyone, I’m Michael H. Cohen, founding attorney of the Cohen Healthcare Law Group. We’ve advised over a thousand healthcare industry clients on healthcare and FDA legal issues.
Today, I’m going to tell you about some of the problems you can run into as a healthcare provider getting involved with medical tourism. By the end of this video, you’ll at least have some lay of the land and know enough to ask yourself some key questions to assess your situation and get a sense of the legal risk you may be unwittingly facing.
We’ve advised clients who have been interested in going down this route, for example a U.S. medical group considering a business opportunity with a foreign medical group that would send their high-net worth patients to the U.S. provider.
The foreign medical group decided to do with a “Tourism Fee.” In exchange for generating business, the foreign practice might propose that the U.S. practice pay a tourism fee that would include airfare, accommodation, translation services, and tickets to local attractions like the Yankees or Disneyland and plus medical services, it would all be bundled together.
When you hear “bundled”, you got to think potentially anti-kickback, fee-splitting considerations.
In California, the anti-kickback and fee splitting provisions are principally contained in Business & Professions Code Section 650, which prohibits a California-licensed health care practitioner from offering to pay anything of value to induce patients to see the practitioner. It’s a very broad definition, we talked about it in our blog. And here, the U.S group would be paying the foreign group money to cover the travel costs of patients referred to the U.S. Potentially that could be considered inducement, fee-splitting and unlawful kickback. It is a dangerous model.
What we’d recommend instead is to have more of an MSO-type model. If you’re interested in the MSO, you can read a lot about it in our blog, cohenhealthcarelaw.com/blog. Or give us a call and book a Legal Strategy Session with us, you can read about our Legal Strategy Session on our website.
Thanks a lot for watching. Here’s to the success of your healthcare venture, whether it involves medical tourism or some other aspect of health and wellness, and we look forward to speaking with you soon.
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