US Insurers Warming to Medical Tourism

Sending patients to India, elsewhere could save $20B a year
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2008 2:26 PM CDT
Surgery is performed in India in this file photo.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – If you’re in need of high-priced surgery, your insurance company might have a plane ticket for you. Insurers are starting to warm to “medical tourism” for the same reason uninsured Americans are: Surgery is significantly cheaper overseas. At least 150,000 Americans go abroad for medical procedures every year; insurance typically covers just a handful, but the number is rising rapidly, MSNBC reports.

With analysts predicting savings at $20 billion a year, “I think the initial incentive will be for patients to avoid out-of-pocket costs and for employers to begin lowering their medical benefit costs a bit,” said Blue Cross rep. “But I am confident that what we will see is a steady stream of patients returning to the US as true disciples of this opportunity.” (Read more health insurance stories.)