• Ronnie Shalev, MD

US Medical Tourism Can Save Money on Healthcare

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

Medical Tourism can save money on healthcare

Have you ever considered leaving the city or the state in order to have surgery?

When most people find out that they need surgery, they usually stick with the surgeon that recommended the surgery and schedule it at the hospital where the surgeon operates.

Most people wouldn’t consider getting a second opinion to find out if the surgery is actually warranted and would never even dream of leaving the Metroplex to have a procedure or surgery done!

Traveling out of your area for medical care is called medical tourism.

Medical Tourism has been around for thousands of years dating all the way back to when Greek pilgrims travelled to Epidaurus, the sanctuary territory of the healing god Asclepios. Eighteenth century Europeans used to visit spas with health-promoting mineral water, in order to treat a variety of diseases, including bronchitis, gout, and liver disease.

The motivation for people to leave the state for a procedure or surgery can be a monetary one, but oftentimes, it is for a specialized treatment that isn’t available in their city or to be seen by a medical specialist.

Medical Tourism allows for patients to shop around for high quality physicians that offer low cost medical services

What if I told you that you could save thousands of dollars traveling out of state for medical care? Would you consider it then?

What if I told you that you could have a top surgeon operating on you AND save you thousands of dollars, would that change your mind about medical tourism?

Many self insured employers offer medical tourism as a voluntary option for their employees and it saves them millions of dollars. Benefit consulting companies, like BevCap Management, have enabled employers to work directly with low cost, high quality providers who provide high value healthcare. In these instances, employers pay the providers directly for their services (without insurance) which promotes price transparency, the free market in health care, and even incentivizes participants to make non-emergency health care decisions based on cost and quality. BevCap Management has incentivized employees to consider medical tourism but has also saved their employers money on healthcare.

Employee Incentives For Utilizing Out of State High Quality and Low Cost Procedures

  • Limo Ride to and from the airport

  • 1st class airline tickets to the location

  • $100/day for incidental expenses

  • Free Stay at a 4 star hotel

  • Gift Basket waiting in the hotel room

  • Deductible is completely waived

  • Coinsurance is completely waived

  • Pay the employee $1,000 cash

Even with these generous incentives, BevCap has saved the employers 50-60% on healthcare costs. I spoke with Jason Dixon of BevCap Management and was amazed that year to date, the employers have paid out approximately $220,000 in incentives, but have actually saved more than $1.6 million in healthcare costs by offering a medical tourism option, compared to patients staying locally for procedures.

So how is this possible? Well let’s look at some surgeries and their actual costs. The usual price for a rotator cuff surgery is $32,625 but through the free market, it might cost $8,092 with a $24,533 savings for the employer. Another common surgery is a hysterectomy which typically costs $29,918, but through the free market it might cost $8,850 which translates into $21,068 savings!!

These are significant savings for self insured employers. The bundled price ( doctor fee, facility fee, anesthesia fee) is often 50-80% less than the average network-allowed amount.

Seeking a procedure or surgery elsewhere can potentially save the employer thousands of dollars, provide better care to the employees, incentivize them to become healthcare consumers, and promote shopping around for healthcare services based on both quality and price.

MediBookr is a service provided by employers that helps navigate patients to high value medical providers who offer high quality healthcare at low cost. MediBookr can help you negotiate a bundled payment for a surgery or procedure, can help you obtain a second opinion, and can help connect you with top specialists. Go to www.MediBookr.com or log in to your MediBookr App today!

-Dr. Ronnie Shalev is the Chief Medical Officer at MediBookr and is board certified in Emergency Medicine