Outsourcing Healthcare- with a free vacation to boot! Medical Tourism coverage.

The announcement hit my desk like a brick on Waterford Crystal.    If you like this idea, you better think twice next time you complain about highly skilled jobs being lost here in the US and shipped overseas. 

Last week Anthem of Wisconsin announced a pilot program to administer your healthcare overseas.    Instead of having your knee replaced at Milwaukee General , Anthem will fly you and a companion, to an internationally certified hospital overseas for your healthcare.  That’s right, your HMO location might be in Mumbai, India.   Ok, ok, it’s not for HMO’s, and it’s not mandatory, but the possibilities are there.

Here’s how it works, and these are quotes: 

Once a member decides that he/she may be interested in receiving care overseas, and the member is determined to be a viable medical tourism candidate, an Anthem case manager will begin working with the member. The case manager will coordinate all steps of the medical tourism process; all medical arrangements are handled for the member; all travel arrangements are booked and paid for, both for the patient and a travel companion; and all related medical tourism charges (travel and medical) are covered.  The case manager will also make arrangements for any necessary post-operative care on the member’s return to the United States.  Employees who elect to use the international benefit will receive care for their non-emergency procedures at Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited facilities at lower out-of-pocket costs. For example, the U.S. retail price for knee replacement surgery is approximately $70,000, while the same procedure costs approximately $8,500 in India. Therefore, this pilot has the potential to result in thousands of dollars in savings for the employer and member.

Maybe the timing of this is a bit suspect, but this might turn into an interesting trend.