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Professor Glenn Cohen: “Patients with Passports”

The youngest professor on the Harvard Law School faculty, Glenn Cohen, has studied the potential risks and legal issues involved with medical tourism from a variety of perspectives. International medical travel is advertised as an inexpensive, easy way to travel to exotic locations while receiving quality healthcare. What is not often advertised is what can go wrong during this experience.

In this interview, Professor Cohen offers insights to the reasons why this sector does not have a widespread acceptance among insurance companies, how medical tourism consumers can protect themselves, and potential issues to come in the future.

The negative publicity surrounding medical complications with medical tourists, has not yet affected major hospitals or hospital groups. . “There isn’t much legal case law, or history of adverse events, in part, I believe, because hospitals don’t want the negative publicity,” says Professor Cohen.

Professor Cohen’s advice to medical travelers is to proceed cautiously. It’s difficult to bring foreign providers into US courts or to bring a lawsuit to a foreign country.

The complexity of U.S. insurance regulations is one reason insurance companies have not adopted medical travel as a way to cut costs. Most regulations are controlled by individual states or self-funded companies. Professor Cohen believes this could be a better opportunity to incorporate international travel benefits for employees.

Despite the challenges involved with medical travel, Professor Cohen has a positive outlook for the future of this sector. He considers the early challenges characteristics of emerging markets.


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