Medical tourism is no longer confined to reduced rate facelifts in foreign countries. While traveling abroad for medical treatment is still far from common, an increasing number of employer-sponsored health plans are covering gall bladder operations in exotic locales. Facilities in far-flung India and Thailand and closer to home in Brazil and Barbados have been identified as providing quality and value for U.S. patients seeking medical care abroad.
How Much Cheaper?
The numbers are alluring. An annual report by Deloitte titled this year, Medical Tourism; Updates and Implications, cites cost savings up of to 70%, including travel and recuperation. Before rushing to check plan documents along with cruise schedules keep in mind that employees should never be told they are flying to Singapore to get that knee replacement, travel must be optional.
Any three week vacation abroad starts with research, most likely a review of guidebooks. There is no shortage of companies that specialize in arranging international travel for the purposes of medical care. Skip these as a first step, even if the photos of palm trees and lush hospital lobbies are alluring. Start with your own provider and guidelines from the American Medical Association that include specifics about accreditation, records and follow up care.
The concept is not for everyone but nothing is lost in adding to your benefits knowledge. Well planned and carefully guided medical excursions can create the potential for achieving positive results all around, along with a few nice post cards.