Companies that are self-insured can reduce their expenses by sending employees overseas for certain medical procedures with no compromises in safety or comfort. Similarly, insurance companies can cut costs by outsourcing some operations for their policy holders.
To assist American companies in dealing with hospitals and surgeons in other countries, Global Surgery Network Inc. (GSN) has set up a new Professional Services Division. "At a time when companies are typically looking at 15% to 20% annual increases in their insurance premiums, dealing with overseas providers can end up saving them 60% to 70%," says GSN President Jack Schafer. "The customers get medical care that is every bit as good as, and often better than they'd receive here in the USA."
Offshore treatment is not intended to replace emergency operations, but planned and necessary orthopedic procedures for hips, knees and backs have proven to be ideal ways to cut costs, and some insurance providers are even eliminating deductibles and co-pays. Even when the added expenses of travel and first-class accommodations for both the patient and a companion have been factored in, the bottom line reveals savings too substantial to ignore.
At least one US based insurance company, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, has already signed an agreement to have elective surgeries performed in India, in a program that meets all guidelines set by the American Medical Association.
Some America's most prestigious medical institutions, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic have international divisions that are operating hospitals in India, Panama and Thailand.
Self insured companies and the insurance industry initially made arrangements with overseas hospitals directly, but found that arranging travel, transportation, and accommodations to coincide with the medical procedures was a daunting task. Now they are turning to facilitators such as GSN, one of only five companies in the USA accredited by the Medical Tourism Association as a Certified Facilitator.