winter sunset

Journalism is publishing what someone else does not want published. All the rest is public relations. - George Orwell

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Saving lives while sharing the scenery

Maria Freed, center, and Dr. Juan Raposo (spine surgeon), right, celebrate
with their 500th patient. She's from Cayman Islands.

Tourism was way up in Miami in 2012 thanks in large part to a 7.2 percent increase in international visitors and you can see so many tourists on the big red buses that pass through town. Many of the tourists you see are here enjoying themselves, but some of them are here for medical care.

Many people visit the United States for medical treatment that they cannot receive in their own countries and while here getting the proper treatment, they spend money on restaurants, shopping, going to the movies and so much more. They bring their familes along and it turns in to quite a chunk of change.

With all the talk of medical insurance and Obama Care, etc. it's interesting to note that these tourists, a very large majority of them, pay their own way, using cash.

Navigating the US healthcare system is no simple feat, but that's where Grovite Maria Freed comes in. Her company,
ORNOA, Oncology Referral Network of America, does just that. They are coming up on their two year anniversary and they have helped over 500 patients!

"We provide patient navigation services. The goal is to match the patient to the most appropriate provider in South Florida. In light of the continued loss of professional income and the impending 27.4% reduction in Medicare reimbursement, local private practice physicians are starting to pay attention to the international market," says Maria.

In the last two years,70% of ORNOA's patients have been insured, and 30% were self pays. ORNOA negotiates fees for patients that have no insurance. Physicians are attracted to international cases because they offer higher reimbursement than Medicare or Medicaid local patients. In Miami Dade 1/3 of residents have no insurance coverage.

The strongest service lines for international patients coming to South Florida include oncology, orthopedic surgery, cardiovascular, general surgery and pediatrics, all who receive timely service from specialists.

After leaving UM/Jackson where Maria was the Director of International Services, insurance carriers and physicians from abroad continued to call her to refer a patient. She realized after 20 years she had developed solid relationships abroad, and others trusted her recommendations as to the appropriate place to send a patient for a specific condition.

"I truly enjoy the role of medical concierge, and helping others by putting my knowledge of the local medical scene to good use," says Maria.

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