Medical Tourism: What to Know and Risks to be Aware of

Traveling to other countries to get treatments or surgeries not fully covered here by your insurance or health plan may seem like a good idea that can potentially save you money. And in some cases it can be. However, before making that big decision it’s important to know the risks.

Know the Regulations of the Country you’re Seeking Treatment in

Many countries have different health regulations than the United States. For example, doctors in the United States have to go through extensive training and testing in order to get a license to practice medicine, in order to meet the high standards of care provided here. However, other countries such as India and Sri Lanka, don’t require the same licensing or testing procedures and as a result often may not be able to provide the same level of care as here in the United States. If you decide to seek treatment in another country make sure to know the required training, background and testing required of someone before allowing them to treat you.

Additionally, know the country’s competency evaluations procedures. Competency evaluations, in which doctors are examined for their performances on whether they’ll be able to continue to practice, are relatively strict in the United States. Other countries, however, may differ on and be less strict on who can continue to practice medicine after a less than adequate performance.  You should be careful to know these procedures of other countries to make sure you won’t get an inadequate doctor or one who has botched procedures in the past.

Finally, if privacy of your medical records is a concern check the country’s laws to make sure they do an adequate job of keeping your records private. Here in the United States HIPAA, maintains privacy over your health records, but other countries’ regulations may not do so.

Medical Malpractice Regulations

It’s also important to know the country’s medical malpractice regulations if something goes wrong, so you or your family can be compensated. Here in the United States patients can sue for compensation when doctors procedures harm them and that harm was due to them practicing outside of the standard of care. Some countries, however, do not even have malpractice regulations. If this is a concern for you, make sure to check the country’s medical malpractice regulations before  seeking treatment there.

Success and mortality rates

The next and most obvious thing to know, if available, is that country’s success and mortality rates. For obvious reasons, this can be important in evaluating whether you want to seek treatment in that country. 

Cleanliness of the Hospital

Finally, an important consideration is the cleanliness of the hospital. Many countries such as Mexico have had problems with anti-bacterial resistant infections Check for reports on how clearn certain hospitals are before deciding to seek

When is a Landlord Allowed to Enter Your Home?

When is a Landlord Allowed to Enter Your Home?

What Does the Law Say?

Unfortunately in Colorado there is not many protections for a tenant’s privacy in relation to their landlord. Boulder County and City, along with the State of Colorado, have no statutory language for tenant privacy. However there is an implied covenant of quiet enjoyment that is written into every lease.

The Duty of Quiet Enjoyment

Colorado case law provides that a landlord cannot violate the duty of quiet enjoyment. This duty is defined generally to be “a covenant that promises that the grantee or tenant of an estate in real property will be able to possess the premises in peace, without disturbance by hostile claimants.” This covenant protects tenants rights in principle, yet enforcement is difficult. There are also many legitimate reasons for landlords to come in and inspect the premises.

When Can a Landlord Enter the Premises? 

A tenant’s right to privacy is almost entirely subject to the lease. Whatever protections you wish to have relating to your privacy must be negotiated with your landlord at signing.

According to the standard Boulder Housing Lease, a landlord may enter their tenant’s premises, without notice, to:

  • Inspect the residence
  • Repair damage
  • Or show the premises to prospective buyers

The specific language in the Boulder Model Lease is laid out below

“Resident shall permit owner/agent to enter the premises at reasonable times and upon reasonable notice for the purpose of making necessary or convenient repairs or reasonable inspections, or to show the premises to prospective residents, purchasers, or lenders. Entry may be made without prior notice only if owner/agent reasonably believes that an emergency exists, such as a fire or broken water pipe, or that the premises have been abandoned.”


What about the Boulder Housing Code?

The Boulder Housing Code does require that entry be permitted for reasonable repairs which relate to the Code. Therefore, whatever language you negotiate with your landlord for privacy cannot violate this code.


What Else Can I Do If a Landlord Continues to Invade My Privacy? 

First and foremost, you should attempt to resolve the problem by negotiating with your landlord. This is the easiest and most hassle-free way to resolve all landlord-tenant disputes. Perhaps starting with a tactful letter may be the best way to go.

If negotiations break down, then it is time to consult an attorney or request mediation. Mediation services in the City of Boulder can be found here:

Finally, DO NOT deny entry of your home to your landlord. If your landlord has similar language in your lease as in the Boulder Model Lease above, then your landlord can immediately start eviction proceedings against you.


I hope this is helpful! Best of luck with your future landlord relationships!

-Joshua JR Bennett

What to do when your Bank is data-breached

It’s an all too common story on the news these days, data-breaches at banks or other institutions that have our personal information, it happens more frequently as technology becomes more integrated into our daily lives. What does it really mean for us, the consumers? Here are a few tips on how to handle the situation.

1. Once you’ve become aware that your bank compromised, don’t be afraid to go down to your local branch (or call whatever hotline phone number that might be available on their website) and ask what accounts or information has been affected and whether they recommend closing and re-opening a new account.

2. Pay attention to any new or unusual notices about new accounts, credit cards, or financial products that you don’t remember applying for. Unusual activity after a data breech could indicate that your information is being used fraudulently.

3. If you’ve been a victim of identity fraud, immediately report to the authorities. The address below can be used to find the specific authorities that need to be contacted, but also to get more information on what to do in case of a data breach.

Remember, when you hear about events in the news, it’s your right as a consumer to get the full extent of the incident and how you may be affected. Also, if something does go wrong, don’t panic and go to the website above and follow the links to the information that can help you can everything back on track.

Consumer Choice Legislation And You

Third party data collection is a scary topic, and though you might know what it is and various means to minimize its effects it seems like there is no legal way to stop it. Under current U.S. laws consumers have no right to know which data brokers have their data and what data they have. Some laws and agencies exist that could regulate some behavior, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but only if companies fail to follow their privacy policies or use fraudulent data collection practices. Is there any reprieve for consumers suffering from run-of-the-mill invasive data collection? Three bills and efforts in the past five years seek to resolve these issues in favor of consumers.


“Reclaim Your Name”

At a privacy conference in June of 2013, FTC Commissioner Julie Brown called for an initiative she named “Reclaim Your Name.” The program would make data brokers accountable to consumers by providing a user-friendly online portal where consumers could edit and update their information. This program mirrors the Do Not Call Registry available for consumers to avoid telemarketers. The program is a follow up to the “Do Not Track” option implemented in most browsers. This option allows consumers to opt out of tracking by some third parties who have agreed to the initiative. This program would greatly help consumers manage their data, but has not gained much traction by itself since 2013.


“Consumer Bill of Rights”

In 2012 the White House first introduced the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, draft legislation that would give consumers more control over their data. The Bill was reintroduced in 2015. The Bill contains broad definitions for personal data and entities covered by the bill. The Bill requires covered entities to give notice to consumers about what data they use and how they use it, and requires covered entities to give consumers options to edit their data for accuracy. The Bill still has flaws, namely weak enforcement fines that are calculated by the number of days during which a violation occurs rather than number of violations. It is still a step forward and brings consumer choice issues to the forefront of legislation.


Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act

In February of 2015 two democratic senators introduced the Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act to the Senate. This bill would require data brokers to establish procedures to ensure accuracy of personal information and to provide cost free means for individuals to review their data. It would also require data brokers to provide individuals with reasonable means to exclude their information from being used by marketers. There are still many ambiguous definitions in the bill, and many sections aren’t clear in how those provisions should be enforced. The bill was sent to committee in 2014 and forgotten, and met a similar fate in 2015.


While there are many legislative initiatives to bring consumer choice back to consumers, many of these bills are gridlocked in a partisan Congress, and are unlikely to become law soon. Consumers must remain vigilant about how their data is used on the Internet.

Tips for Preventing Medicare Fraud

As the cost of care rises in the United States, so does the occurrence of health care fraud across the country. In fact, some estimates place the amount of money lost to healthcare fraud in the United States in the tens of MILLIONS of dollars each year. While all health care and health insurance fraud is a problem, scams targeting Medicare are especially pervasive since one major hurdle is often removed for fraudsters. Unlike the with population at large, if an American is over 65, a potential scammer can assume that they have access to Medicare and therefore doesn’t need to do any research or steal any data to perpetrate their crime. Fortunately, there are some simple things we can all do to help avoid being victims of Medicare fraud.


Medicare is a largely centralized system. Any legitimate Medicare provider will have access to your information already and will never ask for it over the phone. One helpful way to think about this is to treat your Medicare number like your Social Security Number. Protect it and only share it with people or agencies you trust.


Because fraudsters are able to rely on the widespread use of Medicare, they often try to convince people to sign off on procedures that are either unnecessary, or that were never performed at all. This is something to be ESPECIALLY skeptical of if you are receiving care somewhere other than your regular doctor’s office. Fraudsters often take advantage of mobile medical facilities set up in malls, shopping centers, church parking lots or other public places to try to commit these false claim crimes.


Another advantage to Medicare being a centralized system is that you have a single point of contact to report suspicious behavior and investigate the legitimacy of a service offering. Medicare can be reached by either calling 1-800-MEDICARE or through Medicare also operates their own fraud prevention website in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice, and the HHS Office of Inspector General. The site can be found at and contains a host of helpful tips and reporting tools for preventing and fighting Medicare fraud.


Buying a house in Colorado? Here are 5 Tips for your Home Inspection!

Purchasing a house is often the largest purchase a consumer can make in their lifetime, so it’s little wonder why it’s highly recommended that before closing on the deal that a property inspector reviews the property and tries to find any problems for the buyer. But what happens if the property inspector misses something big, something that will cost the buyer several thousand dollars to fix?

I found myself recently in a situation where the property inspector missed several large problems that were very costly to repair. As a first-time homebuyer, I had no idea what to look for as possible problems with a potential property and relied heavily on the property inspector’s opinion. Sure the inspector found some obvious problems such as broken electrical sockets, questionable window locks, and missing smoke alarms. But two significant problems went undetected; that should have been discovered. The first issue was found immediately after closing on the property, and I started moving in. Underneath the sink in the basement bathroom was a tremendous amount of water damage and a thriving colony of black mold. Immediately  I thought back to the property inspection- how did this get missed?! Then it hit me; I remembered how cluttered the cabinet under the sink was at the time of the inspection, and neither the inspector or I wanted to remove all the items the seller stored under there. Simply taking the time to remove a few items, or asking the seller to move them, to inspect the floor board of the cabinet could have saved me quite a bit of money in repairs and mold mitigation.

The second problem, like many household issues, didn’t surface until much later. At the time of inspection, I vividly recall having a lot of questions about the Boiler system. The property was built in the late ’70s and used baseboard heating for the winter, which is something I never used before. The inspector glanced over the boiler system and told me everything looks good, boiler systems last 50-70 years on average, and informed me to have the seller do a tune-up as a condition of the sale. Seemed fair enough and the seller had no qualms with doing a tune-up. It wasn’t until the end of this winter when I brought a contractor out to do another tune-up that I discovered that not only was this boiler system in such bad condition that a tune-up could not be performed, but that it should have never passed inspection since the setup was done backwards, highly corroded, and is in violation of numerous building codes. The cost to replace the system and put it up to code: $14,000! Ouch! This piece of information would have been great to know during the inspection and could have been negotiated during the sale of the property. Needless to say, I felt a bit slighted by my property inspector- how could he have missed this, and could he potentially be liable for such a huge oversight?

Unfortunately, in Colorado, property inspectors are not regulated by any state agencies and usually limit their liability through their contracts. In my particular circumstance, the property inspector had a clause that limits his liability to the purchase price of his services- a measly $200. While there may be some ways to pierce this clause, such as fraud, the likelihood of success is quite small and would cost significantly more in legal fees to do so.

Although I am unlikely to hold the property inspector responsible for his huge oversights, I did come out of this experience with a few lessons that I can pass along:

  1. Be there at the inspection! Don’t just trust that the inspector will look at everything and get back to you. Now is your chance to ask questions about the property, so take advantage of it.
  2. Don’t be afraid to request the seller to move things around to get a better visual. This is where I failed. I noticed there was a huge mess of stuff inside the cabinet underneath the sink, but did not move any of the items to get a proper visual on the condition of the inside cabinet. Moving just a few items would have exposed significant water damage and black mold at the bottom of the cabinet.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Unless you’re a contractor, you probably don’t know much about the “guts” of the house: the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems. So ask plenty of questions. A good inspector will answer all of your questions thoroughly and will explain what he’s doing and looking at all along the way.
  4. Get a specialist. A home inspector is like a doctor who’s a general practitioner. They both can diagnose problems, and they both know when to refer you to a specialist. If your housing inspector recommends a specialist, you should get one. In my case, bringing in a specialist to review my boiler system would have saved me $14,000 in repairs.
  5. Inspect your inspector. Your real estate agent might suggest a home inspector, and that inspector could turn out to be wonderful. But you’re the one buying the house, so make sure you choose well. Besides asking your friends and neighbors, use the American Society of Home Inspectors to vet their recommendations and make sure you hire someone who’s qualified.

What’s with the Chip?

Have you recently received a new credit or debit card with a metal chip on it? You may have noticed some people inserting these cards rather than swiping in the checkout lane. Here are a few things you should know about this new chip technology popping up on cards.

The Good

For credit and debit cards to work, the cards must provide your “payment credentials” information to the merchant that takes your card. The merchant uses this information to authorize the transaction. This is what that magnetic stripe, also known as a “mag stripe,” on the back of your card currently does. However, mag stripes are vulnerable to “counterfeit fraud” which is when a thief copies the data contained in a card’s magnetic stripe. Using this copied information, the thief manufacture phony or counterfeit cards and use them for fraudulent purposes. However, it is far more difficult for a fraudster to make a fake chip card than to make a fake mag stripe card.

These chip cards are common internationally, where spenders dip their card rather than swipe it, because they make counterfeit fraud, which recently accounted for more than a third of all credit card fraud in the U.S., nearly impossible.

The shift to chip cards won’t affect your legal rights that protect you from credit card and debit card fraud. But to be fully protected, you must still review your credit card and debit card statements regularly, and report fraudulent charges immediately.

The Bad

Ultimately there is very little downside associated with these chips. The only real problem is that while these chip cards can provide consumers an extra layer of protection not all retailers have the necessary chip readers and it may be quite a while before we have universal adoption by retailers. Luckily we can still use the magnetic stripe on the back of our cards in stores without these chip readers.

Payday Loan Alternatives and Resources

  • —Borrow from a credit union or other small loan lender. Be sure you understand all the fees and terms before you sign.
  • Put off the expense until you have the money. For example, if you need money to repair your car, find other transportation until you have the funds to fix the car.
  • —Request overtime or secure a part-time job to cover the unexpected expense.
  • Contact your creditor and ask for more time to pay or a repayment plan.
  • —Use your credit card or obtain one if you do not currently have one. Even if you have to get a cash advance, it will be much less expensive than a payday loan.

If none of those options are available, a payday loan may be appropriate.  Prior to seeking a payday loan, you should always educate yourself regarding what it means to have a payday loan and what your obligations will be.  The resources below are a great starting point.


  • Consumer Federation of America – Payday Loans
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
    • Government agency that provides information and complaint service for consumers
  • National Consumer Law Center