MEDICAL TOURISM PROMPTS PRICE DISCUSSIONS
September 27, 2006
It's easy to see why people are tempted to combine travel with surgery: The cost of medical procedures is often much lower abroad, says Devon M. Herrick, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.
PlanetHospital.com is a Web site that connects patients with high-quality medical facilities abroad:
- When potential clients contact PlanetHospital.com, the medical staff reviews their medical history to assess whether they are well enough to travel; some people may have waited too long to seek care and therefore are not healthy enough to make a long flight to India or Thailand.
- Staff members then help clients choose appropriate physicians and destinations for care; the medical records are digitized and placed online to allow physicians in the destination country to easily review the patients' medical histories; PlanetHospital.com then arranges conference calls between the physician and patient to discuss the procedure.
- Once the patient chooses a physician, arrangements are made for the procedure. PlanetHospital.com assigns a case manager from the destination country; the site often arranges travel and lodging as well.
- A country manager coordinates any additional requirements such as cell phone service and airport transportation; case managers attend to all needs that arise while the patient is in the destination country.
PlanetHospital.com patients can even choose package deals. For instance:
- The PlanetHospital.com Web site advertises a breast augmentation and tummy tuck combination package for $9,495.
- That price includes airfare, meals, surgery, and five days' accommodation at a clinic and hotel in either India or Thailand.
- The Indian doctors who perform the procedures are American-board certified.
Although insurers currently do not make medical travel part of their provider networks, they may in the future, according to Mercer Health & Benefits, a national consultancy group for human resources managers.
Source: Devon Herrick, "Medical Tourism Prompts Price Discussions," Heartland Institute, October 1, 2006.
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