We’ve certainly talked about how many Americans have travelled to destinations like India, Thailand or Costa Rica for low-cost, quality medical care, but is the next hot destination for medical tourism Cleveland? According to USAToday, some employers are finding that sending employees to facilities outside of their immediate area can translate into major savings to their bottom line:
Forget about traveling to Thailand or India for low-cost surgery. More employers and insurers are offering financial incentives to encourage workers like McNally to consider “domestic medical travel.” By steering workers to facilities with high-quality care and lower prices, employers say they can reduce their costs 20% to 40% — more than enough to cover the travel expenses.
A lot is at stake. Hospital care accounts for more than one-third of the nation’s $2.5 trillion annual health spending tab. And spending on hospital care — which rose nearly 6% last year — is expected to accelerate, government data show, driven both by increased use and rising prices. Employers with domestic travel programs say they save money in part by negotiating a single rate, which includes fees for surgeons, anesthesiologists and all medical care up until the patient is discharged.
“This is one of our ways of trying to bend the cost curve,” says Bob Ihrie, senior vice president in charge of employee programs at Lowe’s.
What does this mean to you? Virtually all employers are trying to save money on their employee healthcare benefits these days, and they are willing to spend a little money to do it. Employers will often waive deductibles, copays/coinsurance, and other out-of-pocket costs, as well as travel and hotel costs, in order to get their employees to travel for lower-cost medical care. These kinds of savings for employees can make the hassle of traveling worth it in many cases.
However, in all cases, you need to make the right decision for you as a patient and a person. As with all medical travel, depending on your condition, you may not be able to travel long-distances for care and/or spend a long-time away from your family or children during that care and follow-up. And like with all care, you should investigate the hospitals and doctors where you would be receiving care to make sure that you feel comfortable with whoever will be treating you.
Would you be willing to travel to another part of the country for lower-cost, quality care? Tell us about it at the MyHealthCafe.com Forums.
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