Many individuals seeking weight loss surgery have to determine whether or not medical tourism works best for them. Do they want to stay close to their homes and pay out of pocket or travel to another facility and pay virtually nothing?
Many employers have begun to create surgical benefit programs that allow their employees to receive care at facilities that have proven success rates than a distance from a person’s home. It seems odd to many that patients are being sent to great facilities and they save money, but due to a flawed pricing system in insurance companies this often occurs.
Medical tourism has fast become a trend for many large companies in the United States. Companies such as Walmart are giving their employees this option for care. These employers work with facilities to create bundled and fixed-rate prices for procedures that can be 20-50% below regular rates charge with traditional insurance. This results in patients nearly have no out of pocket costs because they don’t meet their deductible or their insurance covers the much lower than usual surgery cost.
Ultimately, facilities that have top quality scores, whether big or small, will have more of an incentive to offer these low rates to insurance companies. This directly impacts the outcome that weight loss surgery patients can expect. Also, the quality of care affects the amount of money that they can save. These negotiated rates usually cover any costs that may results from a complication after surgery. Ultimately, fewer complications mean less recovery time and less time away from work. Obviously, this will greatly benefit an employer.
While the medical tourism trend started years ago, the new focus is on domestic medical tourism. Experts say that travelling with the United States is easier to sell to both employers and to patients then international medical tourism has been. It also is a better business model for large companies as this allows them to assess the level of care employees are receiving.
Along with lower costs or no out-of-pocket costs, some companies are even offering the cost of traveling to entice more employees. Some even offer cash incentives to those that are willing to travel. Employer Direct Healthcare found that many clients found that patients were willing to travel, just not on an airplane. This has resulted in more options that are a drivable distance from home (100-mile radius).
Ultimately many insurance companies are adding more procedures other than weight loss surgery to their domestic medical tourism options. These facilities are evaluated first by looking at the surgeon, next by analyzing complication and infection rates as well as patient volume. After determining the surgeon is a good fit, they will negotiate that bundled rate for patients, thus bringing more work to the surgeon who has a proven track record. Overall, this is a safer and more cost-effective approach to bariatric surgery procedures.