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catoismymotor (24.55)

Medical tourism expected to increase with U.S. health reform.

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March 25, 2010 – Comments (10) | RELATED TICKERS: UNH , CVH.DL2 , AET

Medical tourism expected to
increase with U.S. health reform

By Chrissie Long
Tico Times Staff | clong@ticotimes.net

Even as the $940 billion health reform in the United States will expand medical care coverage to 30 million previously uninsured citizens, there will still be a market for medical tourism, said Renee-Marie Stephano, president of the U.S. - based nonprofit Medical Tourism Association.

“We anticipate medical tourism to increase,” Stephano said in an interview with The Tico Times on Monday. “More people will have access to health insurance (in the United States ), but you are going to see an increase in the underinsured.”

It's these underinsured that have traditionally provided a large client base for medical tourism, Stephano said, as people look abroad for services that United States insurance companies deem “not necessary” including hip replacements, dental care or cosmetic surgery.

Patients are able to find such non-essential services of similar quality but at a fraction of the cost in countries like Costa Rica, India and Brazil, said Michael Quirós, who oversees Latin American operations for the Medical Tourism Association.

However, it's not just the underinsured who will be looking abroad for medical care. With increased strain placed on medical services in the U.S. – because of greater demand – insurance companies will start offering incentives for their clients to receive medical treatment abroad.

“Outside of the United States, medical care is less expensive – in some areas, five or six times so,” he said. “Insurance companies and employers recognize the price differential and will encourage patients to seek attention abroad.”

“I think the health reform is 100 percent positive for the medical tourism industry,” Quiros said.

The reform, which the U.S. Congress passed on Sunday night, will require every American to have health insurance by 2014 and expand Medicaid to cover people who cannot afford to pay for insurance themselves. It will also prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against patients based on their medical history and will lower prescription medicine costs for seniors.

Stephano said the United States system may start to resemble the system in Canada and Europe, where greater demand for health care has increased wait-times and pushed individuals to seek alternatives.

“More people are going to begin using health services, which puts a higher demand on the country's health system,” she said. “The situation may be compounded with the (aging of the) baby boom generation.”

According to a study done by Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, an estimated 750,000 Americans traveled abroad for medical care in 2007. This number is expected to increase to six million in 2010.

Costa Rica, with its three internationally-accredited hospitals and proximity to the United States, is in a unique position to take advantage of the emerging market, according to health industry experts. In recent years, the country's private hospitals and clinics have buffed up their marketing materials, hoping to capitalize on U.S. clientele.

 

I copied and pasted the whole article. This is the link if you wish to see the source.

10 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On March 25, 2010 at 11:16 AM, catoismymotor (24.55) wrote:

The idea that a healthcare insurance company would do this is a new one for me. I've heard of people doing this kind of thing on their own, paying out of pocket. I wonder how much of this article has roots in reality.

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#2) On March 25, 2010 at 11:55 AM, outoffocus (23.09) wrote:

With increased strain placed on medical services in the U.S. – because of greater demand – insurance companies will start offering incentives for their clients to receive medical treatment abroad.

I'm all for it. Send me overseas.

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#3) On March 25, 2010 at 12:01 PM, outoffocus (23.09) wrote:

The idea that a healthcare insurance company would do this is a new one for me. I've heard of people doing this kind of thing on their own, paying out of pocket. I wonder how much of this article has roots in reality.

Prior to Obama pursuing healthcare reform, insurance companies were already beginning to provide cost cutting incentives, such as paying for smoking cessation programs, encouraging weight loss programs, offering discounts for seeing nutritionists and so on.  If I can find the articles I will post them.  But we were already on our way to true healthcare reform before Obama became president. After he was elected the stories of employers giving incentives for employees to lose weight in order to lower insurance costs suddenly disappeared.

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#4) On March 25, 2010 at 12:08 PM, outoffocus (23.09) wrote:

Safeway Traces Lower Health Costs to Preventive Care Plan

An employee health plan offered by supermarket chain Safeway that focuses on preventive care reduced company health care costs by 11% for nonunion employees in 2006, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The plan, which was offered in January 2006 to the company's nonunion workers, includes a $2,000 deductible and limits out-of-pocket spending to $3,000 for family coverage. Out-of-pocket costs partially are offset by a company contribution of $1,000 to a health reimbursement account for the household, and unused funds in the HRA are rolled over to the next year.

The plan, administered by Cigna, covers all preventive care services that are appropriate for a beneficiary's age group. It also offers a 24-hour hot line staffed by registered nurses, services to help people manage chronic conditions and incentives designed to promote healthier lifestyles, among other benefits.

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#5) On March 25, 2010 at 12:10 PM, outoffocus (23.09) wrote:

HMO fitness program may lower health care costs

Offering diabetic seniors the opportunity to participate in a subsidized community-based exercise program may help lower health care costs, if they attend the classes regularly, preliminary study findings suggest.

"These findings warrant additional investigations to determine whether policies to offer and promote a community-based physical activity benefit in older adults with diabetes can reduce health care costs," conclude Dr. Huong Q. Nguyen, of the University of Washington, in Seattle, Washington, and colleagues.

According to previous research, nearly one in five Medicare recipients have diabetes, and diabetes-related health care costs account for about a third of total Medicare expenditures.

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#6) On March 25, 2010 at 12:14 PM, outoffocus (23.09) wrote:

Companies set up on-site clinics hoping to lower health care costs

Dr. Suzanne Palmieri works at a family health clinic in Saratoga Springs.

On a typical day, she will perform physicals and baby well-care exams, give immunizations, treat colds and flu, and check blood pressure. Her workplace is your average primary care center, with one big difference: It is inside the Quad/Graphics plant on Duplainville Road.

The commercial printer, which is based in West Allis, Wis., and has 1,000 workers in Saratoga Springs, is one of a growing number of employers fighting rising health costs by offering workers on-site care.

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#7) On March 25, 2010 at 12:27 PM, ChrisGraley (29.75) wrote:

It won't be long before people will become medical tourists for better care.

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#8) On March 25, 2010 at 2:16 PM, QualityPicks (48.80) wrote:

When I took my wife to Mexico to the gynecologist, I was surprised that a visit to the Dr. was similar to my copay, the Dr. himself had his own ultrasound machine that he uses to check on babies almost every single visit and prints pictures for you and even gives you a tape if you want.

Here in the US, ultrasound services are like $300 dlls or more, are done by a separate company, and the Dr. only sees the results given to him by the technician. Insurance only covers 1 ultrasound per whole pregnancy unless the Dr. suspects something is wrong.

In Mexico very few people have company paid health insurance. Many have insurance (bought on their own) but almost always only covers major expenses and you have to file the claim.

That means people don’t go to the Dr. just because their kid has the flu. It also means that people care what the Dr. charges them. Doctors don’t have the insurance on their backs telling them what they can charge, and what is acceptable. And the industry is less regulated.

There are also cons of course. Malpractice is likely one, and there is likely a huge difference between the good and the bad Drs. However, most people find their Drs. by word of mouth, so most Drs. want to have a good reputation.

I wouldn’t say healthcare in Mexico is better than in the US. But I think many lessons can be learned. But when you are in Mexico, with a good Dr. you realize how much crap there is in the US because of regulations. On the other hand, if you are in Mexico with a bad Dr. you may say “man, healthcare in Mexico is terrible/dangerous"

Can we find the middle ground? I mean, common, this has to work a little bit more like technology industries, where as a technology evolves, it gets cheaper and it becomes cheaper, easier and safer for most to use :)

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#9) On March 25, 2010 at 2:49 PM, outoffocus (23.09) wrote:

Ooh heres a good one. Hot off the presses:

Experts: One-third of breast cancer is avoidable

BARCELONA, Spain – Up to a third of breast cancer cases in Western countries could be avoided if women ate less and exercised more, researchers at a breast cancer conference said Thursday, renewing debate on a sensitive topic.

While better treatments, early diagnosis and mammogram screenings have dramatically slowed the disease, experts said the focus should now shift to changing behaviors like diet and physical activity. The comments added to a series of findings that lifestyle changes in areas such as smoking, eating, exercise and sun exposure can have a significant effect on all sorts of cancer rates.

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#10) On April 17, 2010 at 5:39 PM, BAMF624 (71.19) wrote:

Great article. I think it hits the nail on the head. Now rather than people being uninsured, we will have an issue of people being underinsured, and access to quality medical treatment within the U.S. will be harder to come by.

Global Medical Excellence has a unique medical tourism model. I encourage you to check out if if the about article interests you, or if you are seeking the highest quality medical treatment abroad. 

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