Medical Tourism Surfacing Again
by jerry on August 25, 2019
Kaiser Health News published a story about medical tourism, where a patient flew to a foreign country to receive care. In this case, the US-based patient was covered by health insurance in the US, and the insurer even paid the patient $5,000 in addition to covering all related expenses (including travel). This piece highlighted the role of a for-profit company that arranged for a US-trained physician to fly down to Mexico to perform the knee replacement surgery.
In this case, the surgeon made more money for the procedure than usual, the patient did not have to pay co-pays but instead was paid an incentive, the coordinating company made money, and the payer (the self-insured employer) still saved money. The biggest difference in cost is that the facility in Mexico was paid much less than a comparable hospital in the US would have been paid. As healthcare costs continue to rise, people (whether patients, insurers, or others) will continue to look for creative solutions, similar to how others are looking into the feasibility of importing drugs from foreign countries.