Healthcare Roundup: Medical Tourism Goes Pro, HCA CEO Out, Chicago Hospital Fails, and More

by David P. Hamilton ,  BNET | 2008-09-30

More health-insurance plans paying for overseas care — Medical tourism, or sending patients to cheaper overseas hospitals, appears to be the latest new tool for health-insurance companies and employers seeking to cut costs. Among the most recent developments: Blue Cross & Blue Shield of South Carolina created a medical-tourism subsidiary that maintains an international network of hospitals, while WellPoint plans to roll out a medical-travel benefit for a Wisconsin graphic-arts company. [Source: WSJ]

HCA CEO to retire by year end — The CEO of hospital giant HCA, Jack Bovender, will give up his title at year end, but will remain executive chairman of the privately held, Nashville, Tenn.-based company. Current president and COO Richard Bracken will take the helm effective Jan. 1. [Source: Modern Healthcare]

Envision hospital in Chicago files for Chapter 11 — Chicago’s Michael Reese Hospital, which has already announced that it intends to close by the end of 2008, has filed for protection from creditors. The 364-bed hospital, owned by Envision Hospital Corp. of Scottsdale, Ariz., has posted losses for years. The city of Chicago is reportedly eying the hospital’s real-estate, which lies on the shore of Lake Michigan south of downtown. [Source: Modern Healthcare]

Medical teams miscount sponges, instruments in 13 percent of surgeries – A recent study found that teams manage to overlook sponges and surgical instruments in almost one of every six surgeries. Although that doesn’t mean the surgeons necessarily left an item inside a patient’s body — which now can cause Medicare or private insurance to deny payment for the procedure — it highlights the difficulty of keeping track during complex operations. Bar-coding and other technologies offer some promise. [Source: American Medical News]

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