The Future Outlook of Global Health Care and Medical Travel

More than one million Americans will travel overseas for medical procedures this year and an increasing number will receive partial payment from their insurer or employer. Paul Keckley, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, states that “outbound medical tourism could reach upwards of 1.6 million patients by 2012”.

Additional findings from the Deloitte report include:

  • Eight percent of respondents sought health care services outside their immediate community.
  • More than 40% said they would travel outside their immediate area for care if their physician recommended it or for a 50% cost savings.
  • The American Medical Association (AMA) has developed a set of nine guidelines for medical tourism for employers, insurance companies, and other organizations.
  • The Joint Commission International (JCI) increased the number of approved foreign medical sites from 76 in 2005 to more than 220 in 2008.
  • West Virginia and Colorado have attempted to pass legislation that would either require or incentivize insurers to incorporate medical tourism within their health benefits plans, demonstrating that state legislators have medical travel on their radar.
  • India’s medical tourism sector is expected to grow 30% annually from 2009 to 2015.
  • Health care reform could increase growth in the elective outpatient market, especially if expenditures are limited to $2,000 or less.

The typical international hospitals cost savings exist because of:

  • Lower labor costs.
  • Less, or no involvement of third-party payers.
  • Minimal cost-shifting of charity or indigent care to economically advantaged patients.
  • Less stringent regulatory environments.
  • Lower costs for malpractice insurance and litigation.
It’s easy to understand the appeal for Global Health Care for a cash-strapped employer. Surgery overseas costs 30% to 70% less than in the U.S. Even with the additional expenses of travel, accommodations, etc. the savings are still substantial. Globalization of health care serves as an option for the rising costs in the U.S., creating price transparency and a much-needed heads up concerning the inefficiencies in the current U.S. healthcare system. Global medical options have placed U.S. health care providers on notice that their services and pricing must be competitive in order to attract Americans who are unable or unwilling to cover the rising costs of care.
The Future Outlook of Global Health Care and Medical Travel

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