Although saving money is the most important motivation behind choosing medical tourism as an option for health care, few employers are even willing to consider the option. The topic of employer sponsored health care is enough to cause considerable debate, but the prospect of sending employees abroad for medical services seems to be out of the question for most employers.
Kevin’s New Knee
A very interesting and highly popularized blog,called Kevin’s New Knee is shedding some light on the topic, though. The blog is about a man called Kevin who needs a knee replacement surgery, and who traveled to Kuala Lumpur from the United States with the aid of one of the few global healthcare companies who deal with medical tourism, Companion Global Healthcare, and the whole process behind the trip, the surgery, etc. it turns out that Kevin saved his company between 15 and 20 thousand dollars by having the surgery done through CGH in Kuala Lumpur.
This is quite a staggering number, especially if you are a CEO and are legally obliged to provide the services, or at least shoulder some of the bill. This would seem like an opportunity for employers to save money on providing health insurance, especially in a country like America, where not all employers provide medical benefits to their employees. It can give a company a cutting edge, and would mean accessing a much larger pool of professionals to hire from. So why isn’t this opportunity being exploited?
Organizing and providing this kind of care can be a hassle, and a busy company may not be able to allocate the extra time and effort necessary to make an endeavour of such complexity happen. Although many companies, like the above mentioned GHC is more than happy to find the best hospital, handle accommodations and fees, and organize the whole event, few employers are informed of their options.
The second is that many companies are skeptical about the numbers behind Kevin’s New Knee. The way the savings are calculated is one for one between a hospital in Kuala Lumpur, and a hospital of similar status in the US. The problem with that is that the medical establishment works differently for these two countries. The company Kevin worked for paid for his and his wife’s 12 day stay in a hotel, as well as his 5 day admittance into the hospital. Of course if the surgery were done at home, the recovery period in the hospital would have been shorter, and there would have been no hotel bills at all.
Although these are valid concerns, one has to keep an eye out for the bottom line. Even with the hotel bills and the hospital fees, the savings are astronomical. The question is mostly organizational, and financial; can the company provide and is it worth it for the company to make the extra effort for this amount of money? With a company employing thousands of people, the answer may not be straightforward, and it may be some time before companies warm up to the idea of globalized health care.