In last year’s whitepaper (Medical Tourism: Implications for Participants in the US Health Care System) we predicted that health insurance companies would begin to cover medical tourism in 2008 and that contrary to the conventional wisdom, limited-benefits plans and smaller employers –rather than big insurers or blue chip employers– would be the early adopters. Here’s what we wrote in October:
Smaller employers look at insurance differently. Many are shifting to so-called mini-med or limited benefit plans that cover day-to-day expenses such as doctors appointments, but not surgery… Such employers will view medical tourism as a way to enhance benefits rather than simply as a cost control measure.
Sure enough, that prediction is coming to true. From CNBC:
BasicPlus Health Insurance of Roswell, Ga., announced today that it has entered into an agreement with Companion Global Healthcare Inc. of Columbia, S.C., to include a network of accredited, overseas hospitals in its most popular limited benefit health insurance plans.
Chuck Green, CEO of BasicPlus, said, “Since our members have fixed benefit maximums, the inclusion of Companion Global Healthcare’s option into our products allows members to limit their out-of-pocket payments while availing themselves to JCI-accredited hospitals in foreign locations.” “To our knowledge, this is the first fully insured, limited benefit product with a global health care benefit included,” said Robert Rhodes, chief operating officer of TCC of South Carolina, the third-party insurance administrator that supports the BasicPlus product line. “This arrangement will help FlexMed and BasicPlus members dramatically stretch their limited benefit plan dollars.” Companion Global Healthcare President David Boucher said his company’s network of overseas hospitals is a helpful addition for limited benefit plans.
“While many limited benefit plans provide coverage for basic health care, most would cover only a small portion of the bill for a lengthy inpatient hospital stay in the United States,” Boucher said. “Treatment at a JCI-accredited hospital overseas will be an attractive, more affordable option for many policyholders.” About Companion Global Healthcare Based in Columbia, S.C., Companion Global Healthcare Inc.
I expect this trend to accelerate.June 6, 2008