The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday examined how some employers "are looking to take advantage of the geographical variations in quality and cost of health care within the U.S.," and others are "leveraging deals they've struck with foreign hospitals in order to secure better rates with U.S. hospitals."
Some employers are offering incentives to workers who agree to travel within the U.S. for care, including no out-of-pocket costs, which can save workers thousands of dollars, as well as money for travel expenses and access to concierge services, the Journal reports. Most of these agreements are focused on surgical procedures, such as hip and knee replacements and cardiac bypasses.
Mike Taylor, leader of global health care consulting at Towers Perrin, said, "Patients are likely to be more open to traveling for care right now." Taylor said that receiving care domestically is much less intimidating than going to a foreign country, where practical, medical and legal issues can pose challenges for patients and employers.
The Journal also profiled Healthcare America, which offers employers access to a specialty network of U.S. hospitals offering surgical procedures that can cost 30% to 50% less than comparable procedures elsewhere. The company has signed contracts with several employers and is discussing agreements with teacher unions and some of the largest U.S. corporations (Knight, Wall Street Journal, 9/10).