Is medical tourism only about international destinations?

No.

Medical tourism simply means that you travel to a place other than where you  normally reside and get your healthcare to a place that is far enough away that you remain there at least one night. Likewise, wellness tourism means that you travel to a place other than where you  normally reside and get to a spa, yoga retreat, ashram, etc., to a place that is far enough away that you remain there at least one night.

With Mercury Health Travel, you can access health and wellness tourism services across the USA and its unincorporated territories and in 120 other countries through our globally integrated health delivery system® of Approved Providers.  Please call us at (800) 209.7263 to learn more.

How much can I save on medical care if I agree to travel?

That depends on the procedure you need, the provider you choose and the destination you select and how you decide to travel there.  IT also depends on your the volume of cases and the book of business you represent to the provider. If you represent a business opportunity of one case, you should expect to have much less bargaining power than a group health plan or labor union with a larger population to be steered to the provider in exchange for more favorable rates.

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. Most advertised prices you find on the Inernet are merely estimates for the surgery only. They don't include travel costs, accommodation expense, ground support, transfers, physiotherapy, care coordination, or costs of medications and follow up care upon your return home. Many advertised prices are quoted as lowball numbers to attract attention and draw you in. If you experience a complication and you didn't purchase a complication insurance policy, and your surgery or treatment or consultation was performed outside the USA, you may have little recourse other than to go back to the provider you were treated by to allow them to try to remedy the problem. If you no longer trust them, that's a problem.
  2. Some complications manifest years after the procedure has been performed. This can be due to a recall of an implant or device, an infection, nonunion of a fracture, nerve damage that may take years to determine cause and relationship. Each of these instances can cause you to have to spend more to get better, if the situation can be remedied.
  3. In the case of receiving treatment at a state-owned academic medical center, your complications claim may be limited to a maximum of USD $10,000 under the states limited liability acts for government-owned health facilities. After a certain period of time, your complications claim may be foreclosed due to timely filing and notice limitations.
  4. Medicine is not an exact science. You may not be satisfied with the outcome of your case no matter where you go.  You may ultimately decide to seek other or additional opinions. These costs must also be calcuated into the savings offset for any "do overs".
  5. Some health facilities abroad have been caught in "bait and switch" price estimates. You are quoted one price to get you in the door and then are required to pay surcharges and additional fees for surprise costs that may have been included in other, higher priced quotes that you dismissed. Caveat Emptor.
What should a person look for when considering medical tourism?

First consider your reason for going there.  People tend to consider medical tourism for 7 primary reasons, all of which are very personal.

They include:

  1. Traveling to consult with or be treated by a world renowned specialist.
  2. Traveling to a place where no one recognizes you and your privacy and anonymity are preserved.
  3. Traveling to access healthcare quicker than you can get an appointment where you live.
  4. Traveling to access healthcare that is not available where you live.
  5. Traveling to participate in a clinical research trial or to try an experimental treatment.
  6. Traveling to access less expensive care.
  7. Travel to access services that are illegal where you live.

Most people travel to receive care to a place that appeals to them.  Other than the medical activities you seek, what else would you like to do there?

The options usually include:

  1. UNPLUG. Be left alone in peace (no email, no cell phone, no work, no hassles) to just unplug and unwind.
  2. SOCIALIZE. To visit and have the support of family and friends nearby so I don't have to be alone.
  3. NO FRILLS. I just want to go there, get the procedure or the consult and come home, straightaway.
  4. IMMERSION. I want to see the local attractions, learn about the people and their culture and be a part of it, even if only temporarily.
  5. ANONYMITY. I want to go where nobody knows me or my business and get the care I want, the way I want it.

Consider doing business with a medical tourism company based in your country, better yet, in your state. Best bet -- in the same city where you live or work.

  1. You will know what laws they are expected to follow.
  2. As a consumer, you have a better chance with exercising your rights if you have a legal issue with them.
  3. You can drive by their business location. If they don't have a business location, you should learn why not.

Ask your family doctor to review the credentials of the physician you wish to consult and to coordinate your pre-departure and aftercare when you return home.

  1. If you cannot locate their credentials or curriculum vitae (CV) or if your coordinator cannot supply it, that's a red flag.
  2. If they have nothing noteworthy in their CV (no research, papers, recognition, etc.) that's a red flag. It may be just a physician with extra appointment slots to sell.
  3. Ask your family doctor to speak with the doctor at the destination. You may have to pay for him or her to take the time and cover the cost of the call, but that's a small price to pay for that kind of help.
  4. Your doctor will also need to determine that you are fit to fly and fit to undergo a medical procedure in a place far away. In this case, far away is "outside the local medical community".
  5. Your doctor may know a doctor at the location where you intend to travel and can connect you with them. They may also have a different recommendation for a different doctor or facility.
  6. Don't pry. They may not want to say anything negative. Assume a neutral or nonplussed response is not good. Ask if there is a place they are "more enthusiastic about."
  7. If your doctor calls the other doctor, and the other doctor works at a facility with an international patient department, you may not need a facilitator. You may only need an experienced travel agent. Many facilitators deal with doctors and hospitals by email without ever having set foot in the city where the hospital is. They may expect the hospital to suggest a hotel that doesn't meet your preferences or expectations. The problem is, without going to the facilitator's office, you can't tell one with experience from one who is a novice with a cell phone and a website and an email address. These days, even references can be easily fabricated.

In the USA, cash is king. Expect to have cash to pay for your procedure, in advance. The providers may also place a hold on a credit card to cover complications.

  1. Even if you have insurance and are pre-authorized, the facility and the surgeon or dentist may ask for 100% of your estimated out of pocket responsibility up front.
  2. If you are paying 100% out of pocket without any insurance support, ask for the cash price.  Working through a facilitator is likely to add a layer of cost. If all they are doing is making an appointment, is it worth 20-30% of the price of the procedure? That's the average fee being tacked on these days. Many hospitals have international patient departments that do the same work at no cost.
  3. If you plan to use a credit card to pay for your healthcare services, your provider may not quote their lowest cash price because fees are deducted at the provider's side. Cash means paid in full in currency or a check, in advance with a backup for complications and unexpected extras. Ask if you can use a credit card before asking the price. The different may be as much as 3%. The difference in price for a wire transfer in full or a check may be worth your consideration. Your alternative may be to take a cash advance on your credit card or take out a loan and let banks do banking, and healthcare providers render healthcare.

Are loans available for medical tourism?

Yes. They are easier to obtain if you have a credit score of 580 or higher and reside in the USA and plan treatment in the USA.

Please call us for additional information at (800) 209.7263 or at (720) 593.9119

How involved can I be in my medical decisions?

You should be 100% involved.  Your selected healthcare professional offers you recommendations that come from their training, experience and their professonal opinion based on scientific evidence, if it exists. Your Mercury Health Travel care coordinator's job is to assist you, supply answers, research options, and will never dictate what you should do, who you should consult, or where you should go for care.  As a client of Mercury Health Travel you should:

  1. Be informed.
  2. Listen carefully.
  3. Ask questions.
  4. Get guidance from family, friends, and doctors.
  5. Don’t rush big decisions.
  6. Always remember, you’re not alone.
  7. Always remember, unless you are unconscious and unable to express your wishes, healthcare doesn't just "happen to you".
Do Approved Providers pay Mercury Health Travel a fee to be designated as Approved?

No.

There is no fee paid to Mercury Health Travel to become an Approved Provider. Approvals are 100% merit-based.

Approved Providers in our network have already spent tens of thousands of dollars on establishing their business, international accreditation surveys, process improvement and documentation, quality and safety management and certifications, staff training and capacity development, architectural design and space planning, complex medical technologies, continuing education and training for the doctors, nurses and dentists, software, language translation and interpreter services, hosted introductions and fam tours, and more.

Approved Providers include:

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Spa Resorts
  • Hotels
  • Doctors
  • Dentists
  • Dialysis Centers
  • Attractions
  • Tour Operators

 

We respect this and don't ask them to spend more.  If they pass our rigorous inspection, we designate them as Approved Providers. The approval is revocable at any time, for just cause.

Does Mercury Health Travel charge a fee for its services?

Yes. We coordinate all healthcare and health travel for you and charge an hourly case management fee.  The fee is calculated by multiplying our hourly rate times the number of hours or partial hours we spend on your care coordination.  The hourly rate is disclosed to you in our Fee Agreement and Retainer.

This actually costs you less than many medical travel agencies because most agencies receive commissions that have been embedded in the fee you pay to the hospital. Often these fees are not transparently listed.  As your advocate, our business model enables us to:

  1. Maintain loyalty to you; not steer to the highest-paying payer of commission fees
  2. Put your best interests at the forefront without bias towards any particular supplier or destination
  3. Help you arrange the best deals for medical travel and arrange what you want, not what we want to sell you to collect referral commissions

When you are paying for case management services, we owe you our loyalty. If we accept a commission from a healthcare provider, we view that as "double dipping" and a conflict of interest.

How fees are calculated:

The case management fee charged to you (or your employer) covers the salary and benefits cost of the case manager, overheads, software and technology and our network development costs to inspect providers and verify credentials, training and experience and a small profit margin. This is expected in all sustainable businesses.  We charge the same rate whether you are paying the fee personally or your employer agrees to cover the fee.

At most other medical and dental tourism firms, assume that a 20-30% commission is tacked on to the cost of your surgery procedure. So a $10,000 procedure generally has a $2000 to $3000 commission tacked on resulting in a charge to you of $13,000. The same goes for commissionable hotel rates. If you book your airline tickets online, a fee has been embedded to operate the platform that is a portion of the ticket you book -whether through a travel agent or an online travel website.

Also, most medical tourism agencies do not coordinate your travel. Instead, they simply tell you to buy a ticket on certain dates to a location.

Furthermore, most medical tourism agencies have not gone to the effort to inspect the providers or rigorously verify their credentials, education and training. We don't believe it is appropriate to expect to be paid $2000 to $3000 to schedule an appointment for you and introduce you to a doctor, dentist or hospital who then manages the rest of your episode of care.

This is why we believe that we offer a better value for money through Mercury Health Travel.  If you are looking for free case management and care coordination services for your medical or dental tourism experience, you won't find them here.

When you are ready to begin working with us, the first order of business is the requirement to sign a fee agreement for the services we render. Without the fee agreement executed and a deposit paid, no referrals or recommendations are given.

What are the challenges associated with medical travel?

First and foremost, there's a lack of credible data and a lack of transparency about medical travel, including but not limited to:

  1. Many "gray zones" in medical travel have not been addressed in any current legislature anywhere in the world. There is no association with the authority to set policy, and no association committed to gathering and reporting on industry data. The only one that comes close is the Center for Health Tourism Strategy, and it is limited in this global assessment way because research is underfunded.
  2. A lack of reliable assessment of health care quality across borders, including the scale of price to outcome. Even the outcomes measurement methods vary from place to place.
  3. Medical travel communications between buyers and suppliers is largely unregulated at the most basic level. While there are consumer protection laws enacted worldwide on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis, medical travel brokers either are unaware that the laws exist, choose not to comply and see if they will get caught, or fail to report any procedural, postoperative, or legal issues associated with their services.
  4. Many medical travel brokers operate without any professional liability insurance and most contracts are laden with disclaimers for abdication of responsibility or limited liability for their own acts and failures and for the acts of others.
  5. In the case of clinical research trials, often medical travelers are recruited into clinical trials for new unproven treatments. That's normal and the nature of any clinical trial, per se. However, the best clinical trials are those that operate under Institutional Review Board (IRB) oversight, and explain how research subjects are recruited and accepted and explain the risks of participation. Communication in all materials is reviewed by the IRB as a part of the study criteria and also reviewed by regulators to protect vulnerable research subjects. The anecdotes one reads about in the media that lead to horrible outcomes are usually those that are not conducted under the oversight of an IRB.

At Mercury Health Travel, we receive many requests from clinical trial programs around the world asking us to refer research subjects to them in exchange for a referral commission or finder's fee.  We simply don't operate under that model.  If we are not convinced that the study is conducted with the oversight of a proper IRB, we don't interact with them further. But then again, because we are associated with a much larger organization that consults to providers seeking to establish clinical trials, we operate at a different level than most medical travel brokers. Mercury Healthcare International's Advisory Group includes experts who are professional clinical research associates who can assist with due diligence and tell us whether a research study is set up with the proper communication to protect vulnerable research candidates.

What surprises us the most is how many who are not associated with an IRB will twist and obfuscate their explanations assuming we are ignorant about how clinical trials are managed around the world. I gues that's because they've identified so many others that are ignorant or simply willing to look the other way to be paid their finder's fees. Internally, we refer to those as "medical travel pedlars". They lack afequate professional training and will sell the soul of their grandmother to be paid a finder's fee to refer medical travel patients to the highest bidder.

How can I determine if my insurance plan will cover my medical travel expenses?

Sometimes. In the USA this can get really complicated.

Lucky for you, we're seasoned experts at the US health insurance and reimbursement system. There really isn't a question we haven't been able to answer to date.

Your first hurdle: Coverage, benefits and medical necessity

  1. Is the service or treatment you need covered under your plan?  Many treatments are excluded under a health plan. You must read your benefit booklet.
  2. Is the diagnosis a covered condition under your plan? Some diagnoses may not be covered under your plan.
  3. Is the service or treatment you need covered under your plan for the condition you have? The two must align according to plan rules.
  4. Is the treatment considered "medically necessary" -- for you -- according to one or more physicians who have examined you or reviewed your medical records? Not all procedures, surgeries, or medications are medically necessary for one individual even if they may be for someone else under the same insurance plan.

Second hurdle: The type of program you are covered by

If your employer is a sponsor of a self-funded health benefit plan operated under the rules of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) or the Taft Hartley Act (for multi-employer programs and labor unions, the rules will be very different than if your employer (or you) buys insurance from an insurance company or an HMO or PPO. If you don't know, call your benefits department coordinator and ask some questions.

The answer they supply can sometimes be confusing. Technically, even fully-insured health plans like HMOs and PPOs can have an ERISA element to them. So ask this: "Is the health plan we have a self-funded health benefit plan under ERISA? Or did you transfer the claims risk to an insurance company by buying an insurance plan for us for our healthcare or our dental plan?"

If their answer is "We are self-funded for our health benefits. The company plan is at risk for the cost of the claims." There's a possibility that your plan may cover treatment or a consultation from outside your local coverage area. They may not be willing to cover care in a foreign country, but if the destination that you want to travel to is within the USA, or one of the 16 unincorporated territories (e.g., Guam, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, or the US Virgin Islands), there is the possibility. If your insurance is a fully-insured plan through an HMO or PPO, or an exchange plan from the marketplace, you must determine if "out of area" coverage is included in your plan for "other than emergencies". If yes, all the better. If not, your path to cover non-emergency medical or dental or mental health services outside your local area may be more of a challenge.

The reason we don't say "just pick up the phone and call us or email us and we'll do all this for you" is that this preliminary research can take hours on our part for which we would have to charge you for our time.  On the other hand, we may already know the arrangement your employer has and the benefits checking could be as simple as one telephone call to the right person. We won't know until you call us. Each case is different.  Our experience has been that most people, when faced with the option to pay someone to reasearch these things prefer to tackle it themselves.

 

Who can help me obtain the answers I need about my insurance coverage for medical or dental tourism?

You can. Or you can hire it out.

The process outlined in the previous question is often tedious and time consuming. If you don't have time or patience to do this yourself, one of our care navigators can assist you. A fee to pay for their tmie and knowledge is charged to you.

If you'd like a care navigator from our firm to do this for you, the charge is our hourly fee multiplied by the number of hours it takes to do the research. You can call us at 800.209.7263 and we'll require you to execute (sign) a fee agreement and some other forms so we can bill you for our time, have access to certain medical information from you, and be authorized to talk with your benefits adviser authorizing us to investigate this on your behalf. We'll ask you to pay a deposit on account via PayPal or e-check or wire transfer or credit card and we'll get to work on this for you. You'll still need the diagnosis, the procedure or service you want, where you want to go, and the name of the provider(s) who will be involved. You should also have a copy of your medical records and diagnostic studies in hand.  Gather those up before you call us, but we won't have you send them until it is absolutely necessary. The seemingly burdensome staging of the release of information is a requirement of the HIPAA "minimum necessary" standard. 45 CFR 164.502(b), 164.514(d) (Download a copy in PDF ).

Once we cross the hurdles of  benefits and coverage and eligibility, we can speak to you about how your employer might cover your treatment at a more informed and specific level. Until then, everything is merely conjecture.

 

If my employer's insurance plan approves my medical travel will you help me?

Most likely, yes, unless your employer has made other arrangements.  If you have the following information, we can look into your individual situation.

  1. Your diagnosis, as confirmed by a physician
  2. The specific procedure or services you are seeking ( not a general treatment category such as "hip surgery" or "oral surgery")
  3. A brief introductory letter from your employer stating that they will discuss your care coordination options with us and pay for covered services for your covered condition.
  4. A copy of your ID card and your plan benefit booklet.

We'll have a few other forms you must complete before we can assist you, and we must sort out who will be financially responsible for our service fees for case management and care coordination.  Please call (800) 209.7263 to learn more.

I am self employed and own my own company. Will you help me plan my medical travel?

Yes. We work with freelancers and small business owners the same way we work with larger employers, unions and associations.  Before you hire us on your own, talk to us because it is possible that one of the associations or unions you already belong to may have set up a program you can access. If not, we will work on a solution that's right for your needs.

Some of our clients work in their own business as insurance and real-estate brokers and agents, crop dusters, farmers, international freelance consultants, hot air balloonists, charter pilots, musicians, dancers, comedians, doctors, software developers, over-the-road truck drivers, ferry-boat captains, engineers, attorneys, architects, pet sitters, graphic artists, restaurateurs, photographers, fishermen, taxi drivers, speakers, authors, yachtsmen, wedding planners, ski instructors, professional golfers, hunting guides, part time college professors, bed and breakfast hosts, gas station owners, independent grocers, craftsmen, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, arborists, public relations consultants, accountants, fashion designers, tour guides, ranchers, veterinarians, chiropractors, independent sales representatives, and more.

Please call 800.209.7263 to learn more.

I am retired and on U.S. Medicare. Can I travel for medical or dental tourism?

Yes.

You have the freedom to go anyplace you'd like to obtain healthcare. But that's probably not the right question. The answer you probably want to know is will Medicare pay for the services and pay for the travel costs. Right?

If you have Traditional Medicare and are not enrolled in a Medicare HMO, you can obtain medical services covered by the Medicare Program wherever you'd like: Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Miami, Palm Springs, Boston, New York, Chicago or someplace else within the USA, with some exceptions. One exception is the Mayo Clinic.  Most providers (not all) in the USA participate with the Medicare Program for Part A (hospital inpatient and outpatient services) and Part B (physician services and other covered and ancillary services). This means three things: a) that they accept the maximum fee Medicare will allow; b) that they will bill Medicare directly, and c) that you (or your supplemental insurance policy) will pay only the coinsurance and deductible stated as your cost share by the Medicare program. If they don't participate with the Medicare program, Medicare will help pay for services provided by provider. Often the provider will file your claims as a courtesy to you to Medicare Part B and supplemental or secondary insurance companies on your behalf. Medicare Part B and supplemental or secondary insurance payments may be sent directly to you. You will be responsible for reimbursing providers for any payments you receive from Medicare or your insurer along with any balances not covered by your insurance.

So let's put this in perspective.

As an example, let's assume you reside in New Jersey with your spouse. Your grown children have moved away to North Carolina. You have a niece in Boca Raton, Florida. It is the middle of winter and you need a hip replacement surgery. You believe you'd like to have your surgery in North Carolina or Florida where it is warmer and you have family nearby. You are willing to pay the cost to drive your car or take the Auto Train to Florida. Can you have your surgery in or near your relatives? Probably. Can we help you to arrange everything in advance? Yes. Can you have your physical therapy and rehabilitation at your treatment destination? Yes. If your family can provide local accommodation for you, even better!  Ask your tax adviser if your travel costs may be tax deductible under IRC 213D  (a tax code of the Internal Revenue Service) if you are considering travel to have medical treatment or surgery, a checkup, or to consult a specialist.

Dental Care

The U.S. Medicare doesn't cover most dental care, dental procedures, or supplies, like cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, dentures, dental plates, or other dental devices. Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) will pay for certain dental services that you get when you're in a hospital.  Medicare never pays for dentures. Even if Medicare has paid for you to have teeth pulled (extracted) as preparation for a medical procedure, Medicare will not cover the cost of implants or dentures (complete or partial/bridge); you will be responsible for the full cost.

Some Medicare Advantage plans  cover some dental care. If you enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you must still pay your monthly Part B premium (and your Part A premium, if you have one). Each Medicare Advantage Plan must provide all Part A and Part B services offered by Original Medicare, but can do so with different rules, costs, and restrictions that can affect how and when you receive care. All Medicare Advantage Plans must include a limit on your out-of-pocket expenses for Part A and B services (for example, the out-of-pocket maximum for HMO plans in 2016 is $6,850). These limits tend to be high. Plans can’t include cost-sharing (copays or coinsurances) that are higher than they would be under Original Medicare for certain services, like chemotherapy and dialysis, but they can have higher cost sharing for other services.  Medicare Advantage Plans can also provide additional benefits that Original Medicare does not cover, such as routine vision or dental care, but chances are low that the plan will cover Out-of-Area charges other than in the case of an emergency.

Many Medicare beneficiaries travel to Mexico or abroad for low cost dental care and combine their dental care with some local leisure and vacation activities. Ask your tax adviser if your travel costs may be tax deductible under ICR 213D if you are considering travel to have dental treatment at a lower cost or to see a specialist.

We charge an hourly fee for our care coordination services, but we charge only for the time necessary and the services we perform. If the hospital or clinic has a department to coordinate this at no cost to you, we only do up the point where they take over. We don't charge you for time or services you can get for free. We will coordinate with them to ensure seamless transition. If there's ever a problem or concern and you need an advocate, once you've retained us, we're still here for you. To learn more, please call (800) 209.7263.

Our community cancer center recently closed. I need to travel someplace for care. Can you help?

Across the USA, Community oncology clinics continue to close down at an alarming rate. The number of cancer practices acquired by hospitals and the number that have merged or been acquired by a corporate entity is also increasing, leaving fewer places to access care - especially in rural health areas.  Since 2008, 380 community-based onology practices have closed. In addition 609 clinics have been acquired by hospitals. another 157 have merged or been acquired by a corporate entity.

If you reside in Florida, Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania clinics are closing at record rates.  Ohio and Florida have sustained many losses due to hospital acquisitions, often forcing patients to drive to the acquiring facility when the community-based rural facility is acquired and then ultimately shut down.  Florida, Texas and California have sustained many losses through consolidation and mergers with other centers.

This market consolidation limits access and raises prices because it reduces competition. Nationwide, there are about 5000 practicing oncologists seeing patients in the community setting.  Many clinics are now sending Medicare patients away because they are struggling financially and cannot afford to administer chemotherapy at rates paid by Medicare and insurers and PPOs. In a survey by the Berkeley Research Group (BRG) commissioned by COA and released in March 2015, community oncology practices said drug reimbursement rates was the No. 1 “very important” or “extremely important” challenge “threatening the ongoing viability of their practices,” with 98% citing this.  Other top challenges were reimbursement rates for chemotherapy administration, at 90%, and costs associated with regulatory compliance, at 87%. Among the practices surveyed, 33% were in serious discussions with hospital systems over acquisitions and with other practices over mergers. Among these practices, “56% cited declining reimbursement, 48% cited a need to decrease costs, and 44% cited increased competition as the primary reasons for considering a merger or acquisition.”

According to a COA-commissioned paper released in April 2016, the shift in the site of care for infused chemotherapy from physician offices to hospital outpatient departments has meant extra per-person per-year (PPPY) costs for both Medicare and commercial plans.  “If the site of service distribution was the same in 2014 as in 2004, the average PPPY cost in 2014 for actively treated chemotherapy patients would have been about $51,900 per Medicare beneficiary receiving infused chemotherapy instead of the $56,000 observed (7.5% lower cost) and $89,900 in the commercial population instead of the $95,400 observed (5.8% lower cost)” The details were presented in Cost Drivers of Cancer Care: A Retrospective Analysis of Medicare and Commercially Insured Population Claim Data 2004-2014 and prepared by Milliman.

The Medicare Part B Drug Payment Model (81 Fed. Reg. 13230, March 11, 2016) is undergoing radical remodeling and oncologists and hospital outpatient departments are among the top three entities expected to experience the most revenue loss. Phase I of the two-part proposed program would test changing the add-on payment to the average sales price (ASP) of a drug. Currently these drugs are reimbursed at ASP +6%, but the proposal would change the add-on payment to 2.5%, plus a $16.80 per-drug per-day flat fee payment.

Already health plans are collecting premiums and engaged in the business of insurance, which is to manage risk. They attempt to transfer the risk to the physicians and clinics by paying a cost fixed per-member-per month (PMPM) fee for a health plan beneficiary, and if the doctor can't make ends meet and cannot negotiate a different payment arrangement, the clinic is forced to re-visit their future financial sustainability. As the Baby Boomers age and the number of survivors increases every year, lives depend on a strong community cancer care system.

Each month:

  • 3.62 clinics close
  • 3.71 struggle financially
  • 0.43 begin sending patients "someplace else"
  • 5.8 are acquired by a hospital, and
  • 1.5 are merged or acquired.

[Data as of October 2016)

If your community based cancer center has closed or has scaled back operations. We can assist you to find alternative care elsewhere in the USA or abroad.  We charge an hourly fee to help you to coordinate care.  Treatment for Cancer is available through several premier facilities that are Approved Providers in our network all across the United States and in 120 other countries.

I normally reside in Canada. Can I come to the USA for care?

As long as you can legally enter the USA, of course you can!

If your question is about care coordination, yes, we can assist you. We've been coordinating scheduled elective care at destinations in South Florida, California, Texas, Arizona, and Mexico since 1977 for Canadian citizens. Call us to learn more. (800) 209.7263.

Please be advised in advance: We charge an hourly fee for our care coordination services. We'll discuss that with you when you call and take care of all the necessary paperwork that allows us to help you when you call.

We've grown a lot since 1977. Our network of providers now spans the USA, Mexico and 119 other countries. Medical care, surgery, dental, rehabilitation and aquatic wellness treatments at thermal springs resorts all around the world are available to you through the Mercury Health Travel network. You'll pay the providers of service for your care, our services are limited to the case management and care coordination. If we book travel for you, we don't charge a mark up, and we can often save you money with our exclusive, unpublished airfare discounts and hotel and resort accommodations.

Please call us at (800) 209.7263 to learn more.

I reside outside of North America. Can I come to the USA for care?

As long as you can legally enter the USA, of course you can!

If your question is about care coordination, yes, we can assist you. We've coordinated scheduled elective care at destinations in throughout the USA for citizens of other countries since 1977.  Please call us at (800) 209.7263 to learn more.

Please be advised in advance: We charge an hourly fee for our care coordination services. We'll discuss that with you when you call and take care of all the necessary paperwork that allows us to help you when you call.

You must be able to provide your confirmed diagnosis, the name of the procedure you need, and all your medical records and diagnostic images and reports, officially translated to English if they were originally prepared in another language. If you cannot speak English, we work with a translation service that can translate records and interpret for you. They bill you directly for their services.

We do not accept referral commissions from medical, dental or other healthcare providers. Our coordination services to you are billable by the hour, on a prepaid deposit retainer basis. If this is unacceptable to you, please call another firm who may have a different business model.

VISA documentation and letters

If you need a letter of invitation to come to the USA for medical or dental or other healthcare services, the provider you choose will supply it in accordance with their policies for issuing that letter.

I live outside the USA. Where can I get my medical records translated?

We work with a company in Florida and Argentina that offers this service. They are members of the American Translation Association, and they are certified in medical and legal translation.

They offer translation in the following languages, but please contact them if a language is not listed below because they have access to many other certified medical translators who can meet your needs:

  • Arabic
  • Bahasa
  • Burmese
  • Catalan
  • Chinese
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • Finnish
  • Canadian
  • Hatian Creole
  • Hebrew
  • Hindi
  • Icelandic
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Navajo
  • Norwegian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Swedish, and
  • Tagalog

If you need their help, contact them directly at info@solutionsintranslation.com

Please direct your message to Maria Laura and let them know you found them through Mercury Health Travel.

 

I reside outside of the USA and my government will pay for me to travel for care. Can you help me?

Most likely, yes, unless your government has made other arrangements.  If you have the following information, we can look into your individual situation.

  1. Your diagnosis, as confirmed by a local physician
  2. The specific procedure or services you are seeking ( not a general treatment category such as "hip surgery" or "oral surgery")
  3. Your medical records and xray or other images and test results, in English.
  4. A brief introductory letter from your Ministry of Public Health or other authority or employer stating that they will discuss your care coordination options with us and pay for covered services for your covered condition, inclusing any limitations, exclusions or other caveats.
  5. A copy of your health ID card.

Your government must pay us for the coordination of care at our usual and customary fee and pay the providers and travel suppliers (air, hotel ground transfers) directly.  All that can be sorted out when you call us to learn more.

We'll have a few other forms you must complete before we can assist you, and we must sort out who will be financially responsible for our service fees for case management and care coordination.  Please call +1 (800) 209.7263 | +1(720) 593. 9119 (international) to learn more.  We accept calls from 0700 to 2100 Mon-Fri (Mountain time).

Is it possible to travel to Colorado to try medical marijuana?

It is possible to come to Colorado to try marijuana, if you are a U.S. citizen. Medical grades of marijuana are different in strains, potency, and ingredients than recreational marijuana on some products.

Products you may be interested in include edible foods that have marijuana blended into them, "flower" (the dried leaves) and other products.  Purchases by persons from outside the State of Colorado account for as much as 90% of recreational marijuana sales in Colorado's resort towns in the mountains. In Denver, a large percentage of tourism dollars are generated from visitors seeking to try marijuana for medical reasons.

We offer travel coordination, hotel discounts, and shopping trips. You cannot access "medical" marijuana products without a medical marijuana card. You cannot obtain a medical card without a doctor's certification, and only for certain conditions. There is a fee to apply. The card takes approximately 6 weeks from receipt of your completed application for the card to be mailed to your legal address in Colorado. You must prove residency with certain documentation (a utility bill or car insurance ID showing your address in Colorado).

If you seek marijuana to treat a child with epilepsy or another condition, two doctors must certify the medical necessity. People sometimes also certify pets with arthritis and other conditions.

For all medical certifications, a doctor must be registered with the authorities and their prescribing authority from the DEA and medical license be verified and on file.

If you simply want to try the recreational product to see if it will help you sleep, reduce pain, or provide relief from certain symptoms, and would like to coordinate a vacation in Denver, we can help. We're actually quite knowledgeable about it. Several of our staff members have medical marijuana credentials and use it personally. We can arrange medical appointments with knowledgeable physicians with whom you can consult for specific guidance. We can also arrange all travel and tourism services. A fee is charged for our coordination services. We don't mark up the travel or medical consultation. We offer you several discounts on hotel, exclusive unpublished savings on airfare, and local tourism guidance.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, any marijuana possession is actually a violation of U.S. immigration laws and you could be deported.  Under the Secure Communities initiative, a program launched under George W. Bush that allows immigration agents access to local fingerprint data banks. Previously, it was exceedingly difficult for immigration authorities to locate immigrants charged with minor drug crimes nationwide; now they can do so with the touch of a button.

The result is more drug-related deportations than ever before. According to a Human Rights Watch investigation of U.S. government data, between 2007 and 2012, drug-possession-related deportations increased 43 percent, and drug-sale-related deportations increased 23 percent. In all, during that period, nearly 266,000 people were forced out of the country after being convicted of a nonviolent drug offense, which accounted for roughly one out of every four criminal-conviction-related deportations. More than 50,000 of those deportations were related to a marijuana conviction. Click here to read an informative article to answer many questions.

If you reside outside the State of Colorado, there are limits to how much recreational marijuana product you can purchase and have in your possession. Currently, the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) does not track recreational sales to customers in Colorado. Amendment 64 made it clear that the state can't keep a database of patients.   The receptionist at every marijuana retail and/or medical shop will simply gave your ID a quick look much like a bar tender would and then let you in the door.  You are on camera, though. In fact, on many cameras — with images fed straight to the MED. And law enforcement can access those cameras.

If you ultimately decide to move to Colorado to access medical marijuana products, we will also coordinate a visit to chat with a real estate agent who can assist you with purchase or lease of a home or apartment residence. Many people from other states have done this in the past two years.

How can I get my X-Rays and other images converted to digital form?

When arranging non-covered procedures that your health insurance will not pay for, we will provide you with a firm medical travel quotation. This amount will be payable by you or you may attempt to arrange financing through alternative funding sources (credit card, personal loan, medical loan, etc.)

Depending on the medical tourism procedure you require, we may need to obtain your X-Rays for the doctor to offer a more in-depth evaluation of your condition. While most medical facilites worldwide are now able to produce copies of all medical records and images in digital form, some are still unable to do this in certain remote locations and undeveloped countries.

To help accommodate this necessary task, we have contracted an independent service that will copy your X-Rays into a digital format for submission to our Approved Providers at medical travel facilities in the USA and abroad. This way, you will retain all your original copies for future reference.

Superior Imaging specialize in high quality, low cost x-ray duplication. All business is conducted professionally with the utmost respect for your confidentiality. With over 20 years experience, you can count on the highest quality copies every time. Send x-rays to us by FedEx or UPS and they will be copied and on their way back to you within 24 hours of arrival at their office.

With Superior Imaging, you benefit from their:

  • Experience - Over 20 years of dependable service.
  • Price - A special package price has been established medical travel clients.
  • Safety - They have an clean safety record.
  • Quality - Consistent quality reproduction.
  • Turnaround Speed - Your originals and copies are on their way back the next business day.

 

Phone (Toll Free): 1-877-859-9069

Website: http://www.xraycopy.com/

E-mail: xraycopy@yahoo.com

 

WHAT TO DO TO GET YOUR FILMS COPIED

Please send your x-rays to the following address:

Superior Imaging Services

131 South Emma

Ventura, CA 93003

 

Please note:

Our clients are identified to Superior by their assigned Patient ID to allow transmission of your X-Rays to our server in accordance with U.S. Privacy Regulations.

Please reference this number when submitting your X-Rays to Superior so they can safely and privately upload your files to our server for submission to our Approved Providers.

 

Payment for Ditigal Copy Service

Please include a check or money order payable to Superior Imaging Services based on the following rates.

X-Ray Digital Copy Pricing

$ 30.00  - This package includes:

  • Processing a digitized copy of a single X-Ray film / image
  • Digital copy sent electronically to Mercury Health Travel for submission to your chosen providers
  • Return U.S. Postal Service postage to send the original X-Rays back to you

Optional Additional Services

  • $5.00 -  Each additional X-Ray
  • $10.00 - To receive your originals back within 2 days via FedEx 2nd day air, add $10.00
  • $25.00 - Receive your digital X-Rays on a USB.
Are there finance companies who make loans for medical tourism procedures?

There are several ways to potentially finance your medical travel expenses. Here are some suggestions:

  • Savings (HSA and HRA accounts may cover some, not all procedures. Ask your tax adviser)
  • Credit Card
  • Home Equity Loan
  • Line of Credit
  • Personal Loan
  • Monetary Gifts From Family & Friends
  • Fundraisers (GoFundMe, Kiva, FirstGiving)
  • Asset Liquidation (Ebay, Craig's List, LetGo!)
  • Patient Finance Companies
  • GE Capital Credit
  • Wells Fargo
  • Chase

To help facilitate our clients' financial needs to pay for their travel experience, we have established affiliations with a loan processing company that will assist you in finding the best loan options for you. Our affiliate is happy to discuss your needs and situation.

  • Get extended terms to repay your medical or dental loan for elective Medical/Dental Services.
  • You may qualify if you have a 580 FICO score or higher.
  • Financing offers a flexible alternative to increasing credit card balances or tying up cash.
  • Ask your tax adviser if the interest on your loan for your medical or dental procedure is deductible.

To learn more, please call 800.209.7263 and ask to speak to someone who can assist you with a patient financing referral.

Is there an insurance I can purchase to cover unanticipated complications?

Yes, this option will be discussed with you. We work with a reputable insurer in the USA. We do not sell insurance policies. You will deal directly with them to purchase a policy. We will cooperate and supply an information required, upon your written authorization.

Custom Assurance Placements, LTD.
PO Box 5736
Columbia, SC 29250-5736
Phone: 803.799.1770  |  Fax: 803.799.1817  |  Toll Free: 888.799.1770

I cannot afford my prescription medications. How can you help me?

Many medical travel clients travel to other countries where their medications may be less expensive than in the USA.

For example, some medications that cost more than $100 per dose in the USA are actually available in Europe and the Caribbean for less than $10 per dose. If you require a medication that is not available in the USA or unaffordable and wish to travel outside the USA to obtain your medication in person, We'll help you coordinate that trip.

Shopping Trip Coordination includes:

  • Exclusive air travel discounts
  • Arrival coordination service and ground transfer to hotel
  • Discount accommodation reservations
  • Medical records transfer to a physician at your shopping destination
  • Doctor consultation at destination
  • Transfer to the shopping outlets you want to visit
  • Transfer back to your hotel
  • Transfer back to the airport and departure coordination

Mail Order Services

Before arranging travel abroad, you may wish to check online for mail order services.

Many of our clients have been successful ordering from www.CanadaDrugs.com. They offer a price estimator on their website along with chat assistance. If you have not received your medication 28 days after they send it, they have explained to us that they will replace your prescription at no charge.

Where can I find price ranges of airline fares for where I want to go?

The most interesting site for non-travel agents that will give you estimates of airfare prices for economy class seats is on Kiwi.com.

Simply enter your origin and destination city pair, your dates of travel and your estimated duration at the destination. Routes and fares and airline choices will pop up for you.

What are your thoughts on using AirBnB, VRBO, BeMate, et al, for medical travel?

If you know the host, the destination and the accommodation and you believe it's right for your personal situation, why not? But do give the host the courtesy to decline and be honest about your reason for your stay, special requirements and that you may need to ask them for some assistance - especially if you plan to have surgery.  If you plan to have surgery, because of wound seepage (bleeding), nausea and vomiting from pain and or medications, your host may have concerns that a commercial accommodation deals with every day and takes into stride.  If you are simply going for a consultation or diagnostic testing and will be otherwise healthy and don't expect to encounter these issues, one of these alternative accommodation options may be perfect for your unique situation.

On the other hand, if you've never been to the destination, don't already know the host and the accommodation, our recommendation is not to take chances.

At Mercury Health Travel, we are very programmatic when it comes to choosing hotels and other accommodation for medical travel clients and companions.  Our quality program requires it. Our quality and site inspections go far beyond cleanliness and proximity to the treatment facility.  Our safety inspections incorporate seismic considerations, neighborhood, sidewalks, physical barriers to access (stairs, hills, etc.) plants and organic matter in guest areas, furniture, wall and floor coverings, floor space, textiles, bathroom amenities, layout and design and security. With AirBnB there could be pets present.

Another service to investigate is BeMate.  BeMate features inspected apartments (inspected by BeMate, not Mercury Health Travel), plus a full range of other amenities such as:

  • Transfer: If you wish to, you can hire transfers to and from the airport, train station or any other place in town (or use Uber et al).
  • Eat-in: You can enjoy the best food right from the comfort of your apartment and with no need to speak the local language. Tell them and the local concierge will arrange everything, even before you get to your apartment.
  • Cleaning: tell your BeMate concierge the frequency you prefer and they take care of everything.
What are your thoughts about VizEat dining experiences as a medical traveler?

If you are open to new experiences, the sharing economy, and happen to be located where there is a VizEat experience to try before you leave home, first try several.  If VizEat experiences at or near your home city are appealing to you at home, you can then try them out of town.

VisEat's marketplace concept has paired hosts and travelers from around the world to share more than 5000 local culinary and convivial experiences or cooking activity classes in 110 countries with over 20,000 registered hosts.  From cooking classes; to food tours; and dinners; VizEat provides something for everyone - including authenticity and cultures of the host neighborhood.

Let your Mercury Health Travel Coordinator know if this activity appeals to you. We'll incorporate your reservations into your destination agenda and let the hosts know about any special meal requirements, allergies or medication interactions.   Better yet, pick out some shortlisted experiences you want to try at http://Vizeat.com. There's also an iPhone and Android app you can download onto your phone or tablet.

My employer has contracted with MHT for medical travel but I want to go on my own to a spa. Will you help?

Of course! It would be our pleasure.

Contact us through your employer portal to verify that you are connected with that account and we'll do the best we can to assist you every step of the way.  We have spa resorts that we've inspected and approved all over the world.

Our spa offerings include:

  • Resort spas
  • Thermal waters resorts
  • Pampering
  • Beauty and wellness, and
  • Medical Spas

Stay one night, a week, or just get services there and stay somplace else. The choice is yours.

After my medical procedure I'd like to take a river cruise to recover. Is that possible?

River cruises are exceptional value for the right travelers. Adorable ports of call, places that the big cruise ships can't go, a chance to relax, smaller groups, and everything in terms of normal river cruise services and amenities are taken care of for you.

What's at issue is your well being.  If your doctor says you can travel safely aboard a river cruise, we would be pleased to book that activity for you the same as any other activity. What we check are the following:

  • A doctor an clinic on board or on call in case you feel unwell or need some extra unexpected assistance or sutures removed during the cruise.
  • Special meal preparation possibilities, ingredient adjustments
  • The room layout and furniture and setting that is appropriate for your unique situation
  • Insurance cover that covers you for high and low water scenarios, alternative transportation > 3 hours each way from the ship, delays of more than 24 hours. Pleae note that emergency medical services may not be covered if you recently had a medical procedure. Many travel insurance policies require that you have been treatment free for at least 6 months prior to a "triggering event".  If it is a bona fide emergency, pay the bill, save the claim the recepts and all documentation so that we can help you try to file a claim with your health insurer for out of area emergency coverage.

There are many river cruise operators from which to choose, including, but not limited to

  • Abercrombie & Kent (Nile River)
  • AmaWaterways
  • American Cruise Lines
  • American Queen
  • Century Cruises
  • CroisiEurope River Cruises
  • Emerald Waterways
  • French American Line
  • G Adventures
  • Globus
  • Tauk
  • Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
  • Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours
  • Viking River Cruises

Our experience with these lines comes from our general travel background. We have yet to begin adding Approved Providers of River Cruise operators. Mercury Health Travel inspectors have not yet inspected or approved any River Cruise operator for medical travel service appropriateness. We're open to making inspections or joining fams in this travel segment whenever possible.

While the average age of most river cruise passengers is between 50-70, several of the cruise lines are now creating journeys for the younger crowd and for multi-generational travel and younger baby boomers. The cruise lines are expanding their scope of activities to include more exotic adventures for the young at heart and socially conscious travelers.  Farm to table meals, cycling, hiking, and more food and wine options are being introduced.  Please let us know which crowd you'll feel more comfortable with so we can short list your options.

Some of the new offerings include being able to bring your own bicycle along. There's a charge involved by the airlines and a special box or carrier you'll need. We have all those details so don't spend a minute more than necessary researching all the minutia and details. Our travel planners will tell you everything you need to know and supply checklists.

You can also choose river cruises along waterways in the USA to pair up with US medical travel activities. Options include the Red River and Arkansas Rivers, with cruises along the Mississippi, Illinois, Tennessee and other rivers. Cruise options include 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7 night options, with stops in cities such as Memphis (home of St Jude Children's Hospital), Nw Orleans and Baton Rouge Louisiana, Natchez Mississippi, Vickburg and Greenville Mississippi, St Louis Missouri, St Paul Minnesota, La Cross Wisconsin (Gundersen Health), Chicago, Hannibal Missouri, Davenport Iowa, Dubuque Iowa, Red Wing Minnesota, Peoria Illinois, Cape Girardeau Missouri, Paducah, Henderson and Louisville Kentucky,  Cincinnati Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  There's not one location on the list where we don't have  Approved Providers ready to serve.

My doctor recommended that I consult a nutritionist. Can you help?

Yes, the services of a nutritionist (one time consultation or services of interactions) are often covered under a health plan, but if not, will most likely still qualify as a medical expense. That means that if you find one that is less expensive and specializes in what you need, but you must travel to consult with them, then the likelihood that it will be an eligible expense is good. Ask your tax adviser.

Here are the basic IRS guidelines of what you will need to file the expense:

  • Filing status
  • Type and amount of expenses paid
  • The year in which the expenses were paid
  • Your adjusted gross income
  • If you were reimbursed or if expenses were paid out of a Health Savings Account or an Archer Medical Savings Account

IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses

This publication explains the itemized deduction for medical and dental expenses that you claim on Schedule A (Form 1040).

  • It discusses what expenses, and whose expenses, you can and cannot include in figuring the deduction.
  • Explains how to treat reimbursements and how to figure the deduction.
  • Tells you how to report the deduction on your tax return and what to do if you sell medical property or receive damages for a personal injury.
  • Explains how to treat impairment-related work expenses, health insurance premiums if you are self-employed, and the health coverage tax credit that is available to certain individuals.

Medical expenses are the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and the costs for treatments affecting any part or function of the body. These expenses include payments for legal medical services rendered by physicians, surgeons, dentists, and other medical practitioners. They include the costs of equipment, supplies, and diagnostic devices needed for these purposes. You cannot include in medical expenses the cost of nutritional supplements, vitamins, herbal supplements, “natural medicines,” etc. unless they are recommended by a medical practitioner as treatment for a specific medical condition diagnosed by a physician. Otherwise, these items are taken to maintain your ordinary good health, and are not for medical care.  The same goes for the services of a credentialed nutritionist.

There are some nutrition counselors who may not be recognized by tax authorities or your health benefit program as a qualified medical practitioner. You may wish to review this web page about credentialing of nutritional advisers, before deciding on a particular practitioner at a medical tourism destination.

We can refer you to Approved Providers in the following specialties:

  • Certified Nutritional Specialist (CNNS)
  • Registered dietitian (RD)
  • Many doctors of medicine (MD), doctors of osteopathy (DO), and Naturopathic Doctors (ND) also offer nutritional counseling.

If you decide to travel for your consultation, we can round out your visit to the nutritionist with some healthful cooking classes, where you can learn new skills to cook with the ingredients your healthcare professional may recommend, and new techniques that avoid preparations and ingredients that are not right for you.  The classes would be the tourism part, paid with discretionary funds, while the medical component and some of the travel costs may be covered by your HSA, HRA or insurance plan benefits. Otherwise, if non-covered but prescribed by a licensed physician, may be includable as a legitimate medical expense.

Either way, we can help and make it fun and interesting for you.

 

Can my family accompany me on my medical travel journey?

Of course!

We'll even coordinate appointments for them if you like. Many families travel as a couple or with elderly parents or young children and schedule time for health services, dental checkups, eyeglass frames and lenses, and more. If a member of your entourage requires dialysis at the destination we can coordinate it. If you need a caretaker to come tend an elderly family member that is unable to participate in certain group activities, we can arrange those services as well.

We are a group of women seeking a spa and mammogram package. Can you help?

It would be our pleasure. Just tell us what else you'd like to do or where you'd like to go and we'll take it from there.

We are a group of 10. We want to golf, relax at a resort and each get a video-analyzed golf swing analysis. Can you help?

It would be our pleasure. Just tell us what else you'd like to do or where you'd like to go and we'll take it from there.

I would like to visit a high-altitude sports endurance clinic. Can you help?

It would be our pleasure. Just tell us what else you'd like to do or where you'd like to go and we'll take it from there.

I am a single mother of a young child. I want to travel for cosmetic surgery. Can I take my child?

You can, but the more important questions is "should you do so?" Only you can decide.

If your decision is to take your child on the trip with you, we'll do everthing in our power to locate competent and reliable child care or a nanny or Au Pair for the time while you are recovering. Please don't wait until the last minute or we won't be able to assist you. That kind of coordination takes time, investigation and planning.   Even if your medical service is merely a Botox injection or a mole removal, someone must attend the child while you are with the doctor. Children cannot be left unattended in the waiting room of the clinic or hospital or at a hotel or serviced apartment under any circumstance. The same goes for pets you may wish to bring with you.

One way that we have accommodated this in the past is for you to invite a relative or familiar babysitter, Au Pair or attendant with you from your home town.  Depending on your relationship, this may add only the cost of an airline ticket and meals if you share your hotel room or serviced apartment. Some of our approved home care nursing agencies have nursing assistants and patient care technicians available for an hourly fee. These employees have already been vetted and subject to background checks.

Must I have an International Driver Permit (IDP) to drive at my treatment destination if outside the USA?

Technically, yes.

The IDP is a a small, passport-like booklet issued by the American Automobile Association (AAA).  IDPs are either recommended or required by more than 150 countries—essentially everywhere but English-speaking nations like the U.K. and Ireland.

In some countries, it’s the law for non-native drivers to have one. Other countries recommend it.  The permit translates your American driver’s license into ten languages.  For example, the penalties in Japan are severe: You could be arrested or even deported if you don’t have the necessary paperwork. In the parts of Europe, you may be fined (and if you’re involved in an accident, your car rental insurance might not cover the damage). Check the U.S. State Department’s site for specific license requirements and road safety tips for the country you’re visiting. But for the two passport size pictures $10 at most Walgreen's and the $20 fee, why risk it?  To get one, visit your local AAA office and complete a simple application.

In general, if the country you’re visiting requires an IDP, the car rental agent will ask to see it before handing you the keys. They will also want to see your credit card in your name. If your credit card is a platinum card, you may have rental car coverage already and won't need extra.  But also consider this: your doctor at the destination may recommend you don't drive after your procedure. Certain incisions limit range of motion. Certain procedures may limit your ability to drive a car with a standard transmission. Certain medications may impede your sobriety and ability to drive.  Some medications, like muscle relaxants, may have a 72 hour serum half life. While you may feel fine 8 hours after taking a pill, you could get a nasty surprise with changes in elevation. On the downhill descent to a lower elevation sometimes people become very sleepy, almost instantly.

DISCOVER THE DIFFERENCE: Mercury Health Travel

At Mercury Health Travel, our team leader and team members have been trained through programs from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security.  This training  and associated documentation, policies and procedures are a part of our quality and safety management program for medical travel operations.

Team members are trained on disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, education specifically for healthcare and tourism. They monitor daily hot spot and travel alerts and respond according to documented procedures in our operations policies to keep our medical travelers and their companions informed as necessary.

Whether you reside in the USA or elsewhere,  the if you are seeking Western-style health care and using discretionary income to seek high-quality care at modern, upscale facilities built by private enterprises that have been inspected and rated for quality, safety and personalized attention, we can help.

Join the Mercury Health Travel Purchasing Coalition for rapid access to the specialists and facilities you want at exclusive coalition-negotiated prices.

We leverage sophisticated analytics to improve quality of care for your employees and members and their families.

Quality & Safety
Destination Analysis
Price & Value
Clinical Outcomes

Mercury Health Travel's  dedication to client service and safety and our focus on creating value for our provider and payor partners has allowed us to grow each year since 2003, our first full year since we launched as a stand-alone division of Mercury Healthcare International. We are well positioned to continue our growth, based on our diversified growth strategy - partnering with health plans, employers, unions, associations, healthcare professionals and facilities  - through organic growth and corporate medical travel relationships.

Client Feedback About Mercury Health Travel

I am 57 and recently retired from government work.  Upon receiving a diagnosis of a rare form of intestinal cancer, and being the 7th person in my family to be diagnosed with some form of cancer in the past 10 years, I was panic stricken and called on Mercury Health Travel team for help and recommendations.  They arranged all my care at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Chicago and I was in front of a doctor only 4 days after my first call. My care coordinator at Mercury Health Travel made sure that insurance covered all my out-of-area care at my in-network coverage level.  

I don't like to fly.  I paid for my hotel stays on the trip up and back and drove my own vehicle.  My care coordinator explained how to properly document our travel costs and use my HSA debit card for covered expenses.  At tax time, my CPA remarked how he was impressed with our documentation of my tax deductible medical travel expenses - all on easy to complete forms and directions supplied by my care coordinator at Mercury Health Travel. Between my care coordinator at Mercury Health Travel and CTCA, no question went unanswered and the team had my back every step of the way.  I am now cancer free. I cannot praise Mercury Health Travel's coordination team enough. I will recommend your medical travel coordination services without reservation. Thanks very much for all your help. 

Julie N. (Retired), Palm Beach Gardens, FL

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