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Foreign tourists are getting free mammograms – and YOU are paying the bill

A loophole in Australia’s breast cancer screening program allows foreign tourists to get free mammograms by simply walking into unregulated screening vans at the taxpayer’s expense. 

Women on holiday or visiting family in Australia are not required to provide a GP’s referral nor a Medicare card, a Saturday Telegraph investigation revealed.

With mammograms in some Asian countries difficult to access and costing hundred of dollars, some women are exploiting the free service and even recruiting relatives from China.

A loophole in Australia’s breast cancer screening program allows foreign tourists to get free mammograms by simply walking into unregulated screening vans (pictured) at the taxpayer’s expense

Australia’s mobile van BreastScreen program allows women to access the service, needing only to provide basic details and a local mailing address for results.

However, Cancer Institute NSW CEO and former Cancer Australia head Professor David Currow told Daily Mail Australia the mobile screening process was deliberately designed to promote ease of access for women.

‘The service was set up to encourage women to participate and directly access the service without referrals … to make the process as simple as possible,’ he said.

‘There are enough barriers to screening anyway.’ 

One woman, Sonia Kim, told the Telegraph she had never been asked for ID to access the service at a BreastScreen van in Strathfield in Sydney’s inner-west. 

Since the loophole has been exposed, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt (pictured) launched an inquiry on Friday to enforce strict eligibility requirements

Since the loophole has been exposed, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt (pictured) launched an inquiry on Friday to enforce strict eligibility requirements

‘I heard … that women on holiday here from different countries and non-permanent residents were using the service for free,’ Ms Kim, a 56-year-old sales manager said. 

Since the loophole has been exposed, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt launched an inquiry on Friday to enforce strict eligibility requirements. 

‘Mr Hunt has written to state and territory governments, asking them to review their own screening programs to ensure only eligible patients receive testing.’ Mr Hunt’s spokesman said.   

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he would take ‘appropriate action’ to close the loophole. 

Another patient revealed she made her appointment over the phone, filling in the form when she arrived.

‘The vans are great as you don’t need to go to a surgery and wait to see a doctor, they park up near you,’ she said. 

‘The counsellor said that most of these people bringing their relatives over are from China.

With mammograms in some Asian countries difficult to access and costing hundred of dollars, some women are exploiting the free service and even recruiting relatives from China

With mammograms in some Asian countries difficult to access and costing hundred of dollars, some women are exploiting the free service and even recruiting relatives from China

With mammograms in some Asian countries difficult to access and costing hundred of dollars, some women are exploiting the free service and even recruiting relatives from China

‘It seems like these people realise they can get away with it, so they bring their relatives over here for a free mammogram.’

This is the first time the problem has been raised through official channels, Cancer Institute NSW CEO and former Cancer Australia head Professor David Currow said.

However, because no data has been collected due to the fact that women do not need to prove their residency or citizenship, the extent of the problem could not be quantified, he said.   

Australia spends an estimated $287.7 million on BreastScreen each year. 

Each state and territory manage their own scheme and there are no requirements from women to prove their residency or citizenship. 

China specifically has no national breast screening program and mammograms cost upwards of $200.   

 



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk