Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Get Health Care Elsewhere, We'll Pay You!

Medical Tourism- traveling out of the country for health care and procedures.

In a story that frankly surprised me a bit, The Wall Street Journal examined the fact that some health insurance now covers medical tourism.

Via M.P McQueen at The Wall Street Journal:

Now, a handful of plans are beginning to cover treatment overseas for heart surgery, hip and knee replacements and other major surgical procedures.

While medical tourism isn't expected to be a solution to the country's soaring health-care costs, the practice is intended to produce savings for insurers, employers and workers. Open-heart surgery, which can cost roughly $100,000 in the U.S., can be done at an internationally accredited hospital in India for just $8,500, for instance. Proponents note that many international hospitals are staffed with American and European-trained physicians. Many facilities also are accredited by an affiliate of the Joint Commission, a nonprofit group that is the main accrediting body for U.S. hospitals.

Some of these plans actually pay a bonus to those who elect to travel for their medicine. This is an astounding and innovative approach.

While issues such as a lack of legal recourse and the lack of follow up care plans are certainly concerns, it would seem that this idea has gained a lot of traction since I last wrote about it. The issue that I find unsettling is the lack of certainty regarding the safety and sterility of tissues and blood used in transplant-oriented procedures and surgeries.

Still, this is an interesting option and one still in its early stages. I would say it bears watching.

SOURCE: "Paying Workers to Go Abroad for Health Care" 09/30/08
photo courtesy of crucially used under its Creative Commons license

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