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Support From Employers, Insurers Spurs Increase In Domestic Medical Travel

Wed, 12/08/2010 - 5:09am

More employers and insurance companies are providing domestic medical travel incentives such as waived deductibles; coinsurance plans and covered travel expenses if employees will simply travel within the United States for healthcare travel or to another region or city for medical care. "The savings are significant and therefore insurers and third party administrators are partnering with healthcare providers for new revenue sources, especially in these times of reduced revenues," said David Goldstein, president of Health Options Worldwide (HOW), an online medical tourism agency that provides healthcare options domestically and internationally.

According to the organization , large employers are negotiating with American hospitals located in other states and encouraging employees to seek healthcare for major illnesses and surgeries in other regions of the country. "Employers are partnering with insurance companies and hospitals to save money on their employee health plans," said Goldstein. "They are accomplishing this by negotiating single rate packages with high-quality hospitals in other states, to include all fees for medical services in a single treatment program."

Some employers have reduced healthcare costs by 20-40 percent simply by referring employees to American facilities with higher quality care and lower negotiated prices than in their own hometown. A number of health industry analysts believe that medical tourism, and more specifically domestic medical travel, could improve overall quality of care and help drive down costs with national competition.

Healthcare savings in domestic medical travel programs are realized from lower prices, which are negotiated between the company and the out-of-state hospital. Reduced complications from procedures performed at these high-quality hospitals also help the bottom line. Follow-up care is handled at the local hospital and covered as part of the treatment program, under the company's insurance plan.

"Domestic medical travel is not a new concept as employers and insurers have always referred patients to high-quality facilities elsewhere for complex procedures," said Goldstein. As healthcare costs continue to rise nationwide, domestic medical travel would be a way for major employees to control escalating costs and provide employees with quality care.

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