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What companies need to know to incorporate a global health care benefit into their employee plan design
Faced with skyrocketing health care costs and rising insurance premiums, medical tourism—or traveling to international hospitals to receive medical care—is becoming an increasingly viable option within employer-provided health care coverage.
According to the 2008 Deloitte Survey of Health Care Consumers, the medical tourism industry is poised to grow substantially over the coming decade.The survey reports that medical tourism will be a $4.4 billion industry in 2009 and increase to $13.9 billion by 2011. Additionally, the report forecasts that by 2010, 6 million Americans will travel abroad for medical care, compared to the 750,000 Americans who received medical care outside of the United States in 2007.
Several factors have led to a substantial increase in the popularity of medical travel:
Despite this growing popularity, when it comes to incorporating a global health care benefit option into a company’s overall employee benefit plan design, many employers do not know where to start. Below are key recommendations on how to offer a global health care benefit option to employees.
Why Medical Travel?
For an employer, there are a number of compelling reasons to consider medical travel. Among the most significant are:
The first step is to find the right program.
Many medical travel providers or companies cater to patients who are uninsured, so their model is focused primarily on providing medical care at the lowest possible cost to the patient. It is important to assure that the organization meets certain quality standards. One way to determine the quality of a particular international hospital is to look for the JCI accreditation or seal of approval. JCI sets over 350 standards of excellence for international hospitals to ensure the quality and safety of patient care.
In addition, when selecting a medical travel company, compare what services and fees are covered. Ask:
While a medical travel program is not a cure-all for health care expenses, it can help companies reduce their employees’ medical costs drastically while offering employees more choice and control over their health care and medical expenditures.
Steven Lash is president and CEO of Satori World Medical, an employer-sponsored, consumer choice global health care network. He has more than 25 years of health care experience, including 19 years at Sharp Healthcare, San Diego’s largest health care delivery system.
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