Medical tourists in India getting duped by touts – report

Medical tourists are attracted to India’s low treatment prices. Source: Shutterstock

WITH the indisputable rise of medical tourists in India, obstacles ensue.

On top of language problems and a lack of clear policies, the industry has recently been diagnosed with another worsening issue – an increase of medical tourism scams.

A recent report by The Wire revealed more patients coming to India to seek treatment are getting scammed by middlemen and touts, adding to their already traumatic experience.

The report said oftentimes, self-appointed translators – who are the first contact of these tourists in India – take the patients to the hospitals and trick them into paying more than they should.

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Many patients who come from Middle East, Asia-Pacific and North Africa countries may not be familiar with India’s many regional languages and dialects.

Dev Singh Bisht, a pharmacist in Bhogal, told the publication, “Translators charge 30 to 40 percent commission. An operation costing INR1 lakh would then cost INR1.5 lakh.”

A cancer patient from Yemen, Maryam Ahmad Abdullah and her son, Abdul Jabbar Makrash were struck by higher-than-expected expenses and were left dry towards the end of the treatment period.

Expenses such as blood tests, X-rays, scans and prescribed medication were increasing and they were being charged prices that were arbitrarily decided upon.

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Makrash told The Wire: “I sold our property, gold and ancestral weapons, one by one.”

In 2016, India welcomed 96,586 medical tourists from the world over, who were attracted by its low treatment prices.

A Grant Thornton and CII report showed India’s medical tourism industry is projected to grow to US$8 billion by 2020.