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Paying workers to go abroad for healthcare

Wall Street Journal (subscription required), September 30, 2008

Until recently, most Americans who traveled abroad for medical care were uninsured, or were seeking procedures not covered by insurance. Now, a handful of plans are beginning to cover treatment overseas for major surgical procedures. Most traditional employer health plans offer little incentive for workers to endure long flights overseas for treatment: The plans usually cover 100% of the cost of medical treatment once workers reach an out-of-pocket limit for co-insurance and co-payments. So to make travel abroad more attractive, plans that offer medical-tourism programs often throw in a bonus for employees if they agree to undergo elective surgeries abroad, or they offer to split the cost savings between the employer and worker. Travel and accommodation costs also are sometimes reimbursed.