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Rerun: What questions should health plans and employers be asking about medical tourism?

Posted Aug 27 2010 5:00am

The Health Business Blog is on summer vacation until Labor Day, and will be re-running some classic posts from now till then.

This item originally ran on August 9, 2007. I was into medical tourism at the time, traveling to Singapore and South Korea to check it out for myself. If you’d like to comment, please do so on the original post .

Until now, medical tourism has mainly been a self-pay phenomenon. But over time the patient base has expanded from the plastic surgery crowd to the uninsured and underinsured. Now health plans and employers have started to ask what role medical tourism can play for them. We’ve been receiving a number of inquiries on the topic at my consulting firm, MedPharma Partners . Soon we’ll be developing a medical tourism white paper. In the meantime, here are some questions health plans and employers should be asking:

  1. Should I include overseas providers in my network at all? If so, which ones?
    • For some payers the time is now. For others waiting to learn from the experience of others will make more sense
  2. How should I engage my employees or members? Should I require patients to travel or should I make it optional?
  3. How do I guarantee quality and overcome the challenges of patient safety?
  4. What about medical malpractice and liability?
  5. How will pre- and post-travel care be coordinated?
  6. Should I contract with providers directly or work through an aggregator?
  7. What procedures and treatments should be included?
  8. How much am I likely to save and how can I increase that number?
  9. How will domestic providers react?
  10. What is the relationship between medical tourism and consumer directed health plans?
  11. How well does medical tourism fit with limited benefit/”mini-med” plans?

If you’d like to comment, please do so on the original post .

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