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What won't we risk for cheap health care

A directional signpost in Havana, Cuba

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: Some Americans travel abroad to get medical procedures done. They actually call it medical tourism. One place they're going, without telling anyone, is Cuba. Helen Palmer reports from our Health Desk at WGBH.


Helen Palmer:"Sam" is 63, a self-employed carpenter who can't afford health insurance. He hurt his shoulder and is heading to Havana for surgery to get it fixed.

Sam: Here in the states it would run from $12,000-$20,000. Over there it runs about $4,000 plus my airfare.

Sam will save $6,000 — and get a vacation. Because of the U.S. embargo, he's flying via Canada. He knows he's breaking the law but hopes his government would understand.

But Stan Marcuss, international trade lawyer at Bryan Cave, says Sam could face tough penalties.

Stan Marcuss: The fines can amount to tens of thousands of dollars, then imprisonment can involve many years in jail.

Marcuss doubts the U.S. Government would be sympathetic. It enforces the embargo vigorously.

Cuba could be an inviting destination for health tourists, he says, but not without regime change there.

In Boston, I'm Helen Palmer for Marketplace.

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