Medical Tourism in the US

September 11th, 2008 | Sources: Wall Street Journal

Driven by opportunities to save money and reduce wait times, Americans have for years been travelling abroad to get medical care. Now, some self-insured US employers like Hannaford Bros. encourage employees to travel within the US for certain medical services.

Hannaford has negotiated deals with domestic suppliers for surgical procedures such as knee and hip replacements and coronary bypass. The deals feature steep discounts from the US providers. The favorable pricing enables Hannaford to offer financial incentives to its workers, and the incentives effectively shuttle workers to the domestic providers.

The financial incentives are powerful indeed. They typically include reimbursement for all out-of-pocket expenses, as well as free access to concierge services that organize appointments, travel plans and post-procedure follow-up. The incentives are worth thousands of dollars to workers and theoretically they save time and reduce stress as well.

Healthplace America, a 2008 start-up, is an innovator in domestic medical tourism. It has targeted self-insured companies like Hannaford and has organized a domestic provider network consisting of 15 hospitals in the West and Mid West. Passports are not required.


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