HealthLeaders-InterStudy, the leading provider of managed care marketing intelligence, reports that BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina is diving into the global waters of medical tourism through its new subsidiary Companion Global Healthcare. According to the latest North & South Carolina Health Plan Analysis, Companion has entered into a contract with Bumrungrad International Hospital in Thailand to assist patients who want to "go global" for medical and surgical treatment at U.S.-accredited facilities overseas.
"The Companion Global Healthcare model is the first of its kind in South Carolina and among the first in the United States," states Lori Anne Parker, HealthLeaders-InterStudy market analyst and author of the report.
Medical tourism is definitely popular, as current estimates are that as many as 600,000 to 1 million people are traveling abroad every year for care. Procedures overseas may cost as much as 75 percent less than same procedure in the U.S. Many overseas medical facilities are able to keep costs low due to low labor costs, integrated care models, medical services are paid for predominately with cash, and low percentage of malpractice suits.
The contract between Companion and Bumrungrad gives members access to the hospital that is similar to the kind of access a person might receive through a discount network. Companion is able to streamline all the details leading to a member's care at the hospital, but no money is exchanged between a patient and the insurer. When a patient receives care at the hospital, they pay Bumrungrad directly, and at the rates negotiated between Companion and the hospital.
Bumrungrad, the largest private, multi-specialty hospital in Southeast Asia, was chosen as the first hospital in the insurer's overseas network, and the company is currently investigating additional contracts with similar hospitals. Although BlueCross BlueShield has made services to Bumrungrad available to all its members, it is currently only doing so on a value-added basis.
For additional insight into the topic of medical tourism, please visit www.healthleaders-interstudy.com to download a brief audio interview with Lori Anne Parker, HealthLeaders-InterStudy market analyst.
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