Iran has become a popular destination for medical tourism, especially in the field of plastic surgery due to the mastery of the doctors, high quality of care, and lower prices. Therefore, many international patients choose to have their procedures in Iran every year.
To facilitate this affair and to support tourists traveling to Iran for medical purposes, a new line of service known as medical tourism facilitator agencies, or simply medical tourism companies, were developed in collaboration with several organizations involved in this field including the Organization of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism, Ministry of Health and Medical Education, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
An accredited medical tourism company is a team of experts trained in different fields related to the affairs of a health tourist from A to Z, which includes giving medical consultation, helping with visa and accommodation, supporting during the tourist’s stay in Iran, and following up on them after leaving. All steps of a certified medical tourism agency are according to the standards approved by the relevant organizations.
With the rise of medical tourists coming to Iran, there came a rise in the number of random people starting to work as dealers, usually those knowing a foreign language but without having the required knowledge of medical tourism.
Fixers or Dealers are non-accredited facilitators who do business without acquiring legal permission and required certificates. Today, dealers could be found in different domains, and medical tourism is no exception.
Many dealers claim that they can handle medical tourism just because they’re translators/interpreters and know a foreign language. But medical tourism is not a single task and can’t be handled only by translation. A medical tourism company consists of a team of professionals in different fields supervised by medical experts. The ability to communicate in a foreign language is only one of the many expertise required for medical tourism. Moreover, even a mere knowledge of the language is not enough to be a qualified interpreter in medical tourism, you must be instructed about the medical procedures your patients are going to have in Iran.
Dealers’ contracts, transactions, and quality of work usually remain unchecked, since unlike a registered agency, their affairs are not recorded anywhere which makes it difficult to be monitored by legal authorities. In many fields, unregistered businesses develop to make more money in a shorter time by creating illegal shortcuts to cut expenses such as evading taxes or weaseling out of required steps and training.
Dealers in the fields related to healthcare could bring about significantly negative results. The results could be even more critical when you’re having a medical trip to a foreign country to receive treatment.
Let’s review the 11 reasons you must not trust dealers to arrange your medical trip to Iran. But before that, let’s see why anyone would want to go on a medical trip arranged by a dealer instead of an accredited medical tourism facilitator agency.
Why Would Anyone Ever Want To Go on a Medical Trip with a Dealer?
For sure, everybody finds it easier to trust a registered and accredited center rather than a non-official center or just an unknown person working as a facilitator. So why may some people choose dealers over registered companies legally in charge of medical tourism facilitation?
There should be reasons that could appeal to some patients and convince them that they’re making a profitable decision. Our research shows that the following items have been the most tempting factors forming someone’s decision.
The apparently lower price
It is true that dealers may offer you a lower price. And the cost is always an important element when making a purchase. We would all enjoy gaining a service or product for a lower price. But how transparent is this pricing and what are we paying for?
The apparently lower price
A typical pricing method for tricking customers into buying a service is to give them an illusion of paying less, while in fact, they may be forced to pay much more.
In many cases, dealers use this strategy to attract customers, making them feel they’re paying less while charging them separately for different elements of the trip in separate stages and causing the total cost to end up at a much higher price. A comparative survey done by our analysts showed a higher total price in 80 % of the medical trips performed by dealers compared to registered medical tourism companies.
Regardless of the total payment, In some other cases, you’re not even paying for the real service. A verbal agreement by a dealer may go as far as promising a number 1 specialist for a specific surgery, but you’ll never get the chance to meet the doctor. Instead, you may have your surgery with a different doctor who’s not even a board-certified specialist.
So even if the price seems to be lower, you need to make sure what you’re paying for, and whether this is the total price.
Recommendations from others
Recommendations or real patient testimonials are another important element for deciding on buying a service. Dealers often offer a commission to patients to introduce others. Therefore, some patients may recommend a dealer just because they’re making money this way even if their medical trip hasn’t gone smoothly, or because they have no idea of what a standard medical trip to Iran would be as they have chosen the wrong path in the first place.
So, not every recommendation is something you can trust.
What Is Wrong with Going on a Medical Trip to Iran Arranged by a Dealer?
In this part, we will review some of the main disadvantages of having your medical trip with a non-accredited dealer.
1. There is no way to prosecute
First of all, taking a medical trip with a non-accredited center or dealer in Iran is an illegal act. The rules and regulations of the medical trip in Iran have officially delegated the process of facilitating international patients’ medical trips to Iran to the companies registered in this field to be able to monitor and supervise their performance.
There is no way to persecute
Therefore, as you start your trip with a dealer, you’re playing a role in this non-registered illegal act which makes it really difficult to file a lawsuit against.
Second, for the same reason that a dealer is not a registered company, nor a legal entity whose specifications have been officially approved, recorded, and regularly monitored by official authorities in Iran, they can simply work under different nicknames, fake addresses, and temporary numbers which makes them quite challenging to trace.
Just recently an Arab patient asked for our help with a revision procedure and complained about somebody named Khalid who was their guide in their primary trip. A thorough investigation led us to the point that Khalid wasn’t even his real name and he’s been working under several nicknames, Khalid, Muhsin, Hashim, etc.
Even if a dealer provides you with his real information, they can simply get away from any complaint and legal charge by not answering your messages or changing their address. You can not even raise awareness by writing a review about them on social networks.
2. Dealers are not trained
If you want to start a legal business in any field, you probably need some qualifications showing that you have enough knowledge and relevant skills to be able to run or be a part of this business. These qualifications may be approved after being trained and passing some tests. But what if you want to start a non-accredited or illegal business? If you’re doing something unofficially, you won’t require certificates, therefore you won’t need to take various courses to meet some standards and criteria and prove your competencies.
When you book your medical trip with a dealer, you can not be sure that they have been trained in this specific field and know how to give you professional help and advice when needed.
3. You’re communicating with a single person, not an expert team
Unlike companies that are consisted of a team of experts in different fields to help you with different conditions, a dealer is a single person who tries to handle all the affairs related to a medical trip by himself. This makes them unreliable for giving professional medical advice and taking proper care of your case.
You’re communicating with a single person, not an expert team
4. There’s no financial transparency
There’s no financial transparency
Verbal agreements and payments have always been prone to misunderstanding and even fraud. Dealers do not use registered and electronic systems to create and follow up on your files, nor can they provide you with official contracts and payment receipts. Therefore, your transactions with dealers lack the
5. You may be denied entry at the airport
Unlike registered companies that have permission to apply for travelers’ visas, dealers are not eligible for doing so. Therefore, they pursue it from some illegal pathways which makes it possible that you’ll be denied entry at the airport.
6. There’s no post-treatment follow-up
Dealers only accompany you during your treatment in Iran and will not follow up on you as they don’t have medical education. So if you have questions about your post-op care, you probably won’t get a reliable response.
7. You’ll be charged for unnecessary tests and procedures
Dealers make money by getting commissions from clinics and centers. In many cases, dealers have convinced patients to do some tests and examinations for fake reasons that are not required for a specific procedure. You won’t receive a transparent guide before the surgery to let you know what exactly you’re going to do.
8. There’s no reference to complain to
When accompanied by an agent or representative of an accredited company, you can complain and report to a supervisor or manager, in case you find the agent irresponsible, unethical, or non-professional. Working with a dealer, you have nobody else to refer to. Considering that most medical tourists are total strangers in Iran, they’ll find it quite difficult to find someone else to continue their procedure with or even legal authority to take care of their issues during their short stay in Iran.
9. You won’t get enough care and attention
Not having an organized team of experts, dealers will lose concentration and will not take enough care of you especially when there is more than one patient to handle. So you’ll be in a rush to do your procedure without being well-informed and having quality care. They may even send you to a third person to continue with who may be even less professional than them.
10. Your operation may be done by non-specialists
In contrast to companies that can only collaborate with medical specialists of related fields, there’s a good chance that dealers take you to non-specialists, medical students who are not still qualified to do the surgery, are not enough experienced, or doctors of irrelevant fields.
A recent complaint of a patient having a facelift surgery with an endocrinologist is just one of the many examples in this regard. Dealers may verbally promise a branded plastic surgeon but you’ll end up meeting an unknown doctor at best, and a non-specialist at worst.
Your operation may be done by non-specialists
11. Many dealers are illegal immigrants
The fact that a dealer is someone from your country or region or has the same language as you may help you trust them even more which is a nice thing. But you need to know that some of the dealers are illegal immigrants who have overstayed in Iran or do not have a work permit. Therefore, you’re proceeding with your procedure with someone who has residence issues in the first place and cannot use some official services. It’s a major issue when you’re a tourist in another country.
Many dealers are illegal immigrants
What Is the Correct Way to Have a Medical Trip to Iran?
Seeking help from registered and certified medical tourism facilitator agencies is the only correct and legal pathway to a health trip to Iran.
Medical tourism companies, like AriaMedTour, make sure that you’ll have a safe and convenient medical trip to Iran while taking care of everything from A to Z.
To avoid all the headaches of traveling with a non-accredited dealer, take your time to choose a reliable and trained center to take care of your affairs. Trusting a random person just because they offer you lower prices doesn’t seem like a good decision, especially when your health is the subject of this deal.
To ensure you’re starting your medical trip with a registered medical tourism company, make sure you’re contacting them through the ways mentioned on their official website or social media.
If you’re receiving phone calls from unknown numbers, check them with the numbers listed on the website or ask the supervisor to confirm that the number belongs to the company’s staff.
AriaMedTour is filing a lawsuit against dealers working under fake names, pretending to be its agents, and tricking customers into trusting them, both damaging the company’s reputation and threatening patients’ health. As a leading medical tourism company, we do our best to protect our patients’ privacy, safety, and health, and prosecuting illegal dealers is another step we take to achieve this goal.