Medical Education Pathways – Part 3 – Your Future Begins Now

TIPS AND STRATEGIES

How can one find information about foreign medical schools? How does one apply to medical school in another country? Students can either do the research and homework on their own, or find a student advocate to assist them in the process.

For students who want to take matters into their own hands, the most important things to look for are universities that are recognized by the appropriate accrediting bodies in the student’s home country. For example, American students looking for international medical schools should refer to the FAIMER website and search the IMED directory from their website for eligible medical schools around the world. It is also important to talk to the admission office and the international student office to determine if they are capable of assisting in matters such as housing, residence permits and other day-to-day aspects of living in a foreign country. Don’t forget to ask for names and contact information for alumni and current students of the university. Perhaps the most important factor in determining the reliability of an international program is the length of time that it has been available. Programs that have been around for more than 10 years have enough experience with foreign students to understand their needs. Programs with less than 10 years are still ‘learning the ropes’ and the program administration is typically not as smooth or easy as compared to more experienced programs. I have experienced both types of programs from a student’s perspective and from an administrator’s perspective. Programs with less than 10 years of experience are very difficult for both students and administrators to handle.

Many international medical schools work with student advocates in other countries to assist students who are interested in their programs. Student advocates are typically official representatives of the medical schools they claim to work with, and charge a fee for their service. If there is no stated upfront fee, the advocate has an arrangement with the university to receive a part of the students’ tuition fee. There are pros and cons to each financial model. It is important to note that it is not ethical for advocates to receive money from universities on a per-student basis, as this constitutes a conflict of interest. In the United States, it is a completely unacceptable practice. As with any other part of life, be wary of anyone who claims to give you something for nothing.

Applicants can contact local student advocates, search the internet, contact the universities directly or even visit the universities in order to get a better idea of the program, curriculum, culture and life outside of the university. It is important to confirm that the advocate has a good relationship with the university. It is also very important to make sure the advocate has a good history in dealing with students and universities. The best way to verify this is to ask to speak with some of their current students, and visit their office to be sure they are a legitimate organization. It is important to have a good advocate, because the advocate provides an initial stability and ongoing sense of security. It has been shown that students with support systems in place have lower attrition rates and better grades than students without such a support system.

An experienced and conscientious advocate will almost always insist on meeting the students and maybe even the family for an interview. After all, it is the whole family that is affected when a student decides to study overseas. It is important to establish a good relationship between the advocate and the student. Without this connection, the student might hesitate to reach-out for assistance if they need help while at school. Advocates typically help students during the transition, and stay close to the students in the first few months of school. As time passes and the students adjust to their new setting, they typically contact advocates only for more serious issues or in case of emergencies. It is typical for students to adapt quickly to their new surroundings and this natural ‘maturation’ allows advocates to stay focused on newer students.

Services an advocate might provide:

-Application processing & visa/immigration facilitation
-Arrange interviews locally – this saves students and parents from having to fly to the university before knowing they are accepted
-Many student advocates set up housing, internet access, cell phones, bank accounts, health insurance, etc…
-Advocates typically have employees in or around the university to provide on-site assistance for their students
-More comprehensive programs offer USMLE and residency counseling, and the possibility of some clinical rotations in the US to students in the program.

Whatever the situation, nothing replaces thorough research on the part of the student.

There are many advantages to an international medical education. It is a great opportunity for students who may not otherwise have the chance. There are so many bright young people in this country who could be great doctors if given the opportunity.

Well, the opportunity is here. Your future begins now.

Good luck!

AMK

Medical Bill Help: Compare Healthcare Costs Before Proceeding With Treatment

The costs of medical and health care services have been rising steadily for many years, and American consumers are feeling the pinch in a big way. Many American individuals and families are now facing extremely high medical debts, some of them for fairly routine or minor health care procedures or treatments. With the private insurance system looking to offset costs, and very little in the way of a safety net for consumers, medical bankruptcy threatens many thousands of families each year.

Now, medical advocates are telling American patients to go a step further than many of them are accustomed to: new guidelines from experts in the industry suggest that consumers should be asking medical providers about how much a certain procedure, treatment or even a consultation may cost before they ever step in the door of the medical office.

Barriers to Asking Questions About Healthcare Services

In prior times, most patients were not used to asking their doctors what something would cost – there was a kind of intuitive understanding that since medical care is something that nobody wants to skimp on, it’s not a situation where prices can be negotiated. Over time, that led up to a system where insurance plans, largely those provided by group employers, covered major costs, leaving a patient with a straightforward co-pay or deductible that would represent their total financial responsibility.

These days, even a group plan doesn’t protect the average consumer from receiving extremely expensive medical bills after getting nearly any kind of health care service. Larger co-pays, larger deductibles and co-insurance mean looming costs for many Americans as medical costs continue to skyrocket and other issues like deceptive out of network charging leave many patients with much more debt than they thought they were going to incur when they arrived at a hospital or other facility.

Can Americans Shop for Health Care?

What new reports are showing is that the best way to shop around for health care is to ask your insurance company. Most of the efforts at cataloging the various rates that different providers charge for services are done by big insurers like CIGNA, Anthem Blue Cross, and other multi-state insurance companies. Patients can also ask their insurance company which providers have a contractual plan that forces them to charge a certain set price for a given medical service.

Over time, this trend will probably continue, to the point where American patients routinely ask their insurance company to help them shop. For most enrolled members, the insurance company has a vested interest in that person getting the cheapest medical care possible. While these kinds of partnerships between private insurers and individual patients can help both parties to rack up less medical debt for the same kinds of treatments and procedures, there’s also a great need for more patient education, where consumer advocates are standing in for states and the federal government when it comes to providing fixes for a problem that is challenging the majority of American families today.

Medical Fraud: A Big Dollar Concern

With reports about identity fraud making waves throughout the news media, it’s especially important for those looking at the American health care industry to consider a specific kind of identity fraud that can be especially expensive for victims. Medical fraud is commonly defined as any kind of identity theft that facilitates the use of insurance or medical information which allows for an unauthorized individual to get access to medical insurance, medical care or other services, or that in some cases, allows for false billing or funneling money directly from the victim to the fraud perpetrator. Learning more about it can help you avoid medical bankruptcies or other problems.

The Numbers on Medical Fraud

Although it may be more obscure than other types of fraud, for instance, credit card fraud, some reports estimate that medical identity theft affects almost two million people in America each year, with an overall monetary impact of over $40 billion. Experts also estimate the costs of medical fraud per victim at over $20,000. That means that this kind of fraud can destroy the budgets of many American consumers or families who become victims of this type of identity theft.

Common Scenarios

Experts suggest that some identity thieves pursue medical fraud in order to get insurance coverage through illegitimate means, while others may be looking to get their hands on prescription drugs that they will sell on the black market. But although these kinds of situations can hit consumers or families out of nowhere, other reports suggest that in many cases of medical fraud, there’s a gray area: the victims of these kinds of fraud may have let their family members misuse their medical information or otherwise been complicit in fraudulent claims or other types of identity theft.

Medical fraud is just one way that the average American family can find itself bogged down in medical debt or otherwise trapped in eternal debt cycles. In order to prevent these kinds of nightmare scenarios, it’s important to safeguard identity information and do regular credit checks and basic financial monitoring. You can also get help from third party medical advocates that understand the health care system and how to fight various kinds of financial challenges to make sure that you and your loved ones are not taken advantage of by a system that often generates extremely high costs. Talking to these types of agencies and organizations can help you gain a better idea of how to prevent medical fraud, unfair denials or bills, or any other financial struggle that could have been avoided through good documentation and vigilance. Get the facts and protect yourself against medical fraud and unfair medical debt for a better financial future.