10 April 2008

Sponsored health care by Employer

Sponsored health care by Employer

A few US employers have started offering incentives in their employee benefit packages such as paying for air travel and waiving out-of-pocket expenses for care outside of the US. For example, in January 2008, Hannaford Bros., a supermarket chain based in Maine, began paying the entire medical bill for employees to travel to Singapore for hip and knee replacements, including travel for the patient and companion. Other employers have been less public about their benefit changes.

Medical travel packages can integrate with all types of health insurance, including limited benefit plans, preferred provider organizations and high deductible health plans. Insurers are beginning to establish partnerships with overseas health providers to treat their insureds. The article cites a BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina representative who had a colonoscopy at Bumrungrad International Medical Center in Bangkok.

According to a recent case study interview in The Health Care Globalization Report, a major employee benefits management company, Plan Benefit Services, accompanied a group of employers to Bangkok and Singapore to visit facilities. This is seen as significant since up to this point, most visitors to foreign hospitals were patients, health plans and medical travel companies. According to the report, the employers attending were very close to making benefit changes that would incentivize employees to seek care overseas.

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