As news about further unlawful business practices in medical tourism to Germany has come to my attention in an increased extent than usual I felt compelled to put down some thoughts on the issue at hand.
I am surprised by the number of patients who contact us, seeking help when a medical tourism facilitator (or other TPA) doesn’t provide them with at least a copy of the hospital bill, printed on the letterhead of the respective hospital. (I won’t speak on the many cases where original bills have been tampered with here.)
My first recommendation is to contact the hospital directly. In the majority of cases, they will be more than happy to provide the patient with a copy, given that they should have done this in the first place. Although a lot of hospitals are used to provide the bill exclusively to the third party, this should only be done if instructed by the patient, or if it is an accepted business practice with the right measures to prevent possible abuse.
However it is handled in the first place, hospital administrations should be vigilant when a patient states that he was billed more for medical services, than the original invoice states. Here is where itemized hospital invoices have their importance. In many countries, Germany included, medical invoicing and cost calculation is not very accessible to the layman. I don’t intend to bore patients with the details of the system, but providing them with an itemized bill, that lists every relevant item with the corresponding amount should be the standard by now. Sadly this is not the case. My recommendation to hospitals is to always create an itemized bill and either ask the patient whether he wishes a copy. If the facilitator gives you any trouble about this, you might want to have an in-depth discussion with him, as this usually isn’t a good sign.
As the IPS-Germany works as an agent for the patient, most cases will have the patient pay the medical invoices at the clinic directly. Other services provided will be handled separately. Some of our corporate clients rely on us to pay all the expenses and medical services in advance. After the case is closed we send them a receipt with all copies of all covered invoices attached. They always have the option to request the original invoices.
To many, this might sound like a minor issue. But given that fraud and further unlawful practices are very common in medical tourism, not only in Germany, it is something that deserves more attention.
We want everyone who travels to Germany for medical treatment to receive first-class medical attention and enjoy their stay without being at risk to be taken advantage off. In order to combat these issues, we will publish relevant content that can help the patients and guests in identifying possible misconduct. Further, we will provide advice on how to avoid and handle these situations should they occur.