Author: Renee-Marie Stephano
As self-insured employers hop on the medical tourism bandwagon to save money, an American healthcare management company is finding a good deal of its business not in Kansas anymore.
Since launching last year, Nueterra Global Alliance has expanded by adding five providers to its existing portfolio of healthcare providers.
Nueterra Global Alliance has been referring patients to international destinations, where they find top quality healthcare for themselves and lower costs for the employers and insurance companies that finance their procedures and treatments.
By negotiating bundled payment options with a network of providers including hospitals, doctors, insurance companies and others, Nueterra Global Alliance helps keep costs down for patients willing to travel for treatment.
Up until now, travel had been primarily limited to overseas, but now, the company, based in Kansas — the Breadbasket of the United States – is seeing patients willing to journey across state lines for medical care.
“Really only in the last year has domestic medical tourism really started coming to the forefront where people are starting to do it consistently and on a larger scale,” said David Miller, president of Nueterra Global Alliance. “More than anything, I think it’s the self-insured employer groups saying, ‘How can I save money?’ And I think there will continue to be more of that.”
According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, about 58 percent of workers with health coverage were in self-insured plans in 2011. That’s up from 41 percent in 1998.
A self-insured employer typically will buy catastrophic health insurance for employees and then pay out individual claims. It’s a way to realize cost-savings for employers who spend a lot of time reinforcing wellness programs or preventive health measures for employees.
Houston Hospital Joins Network
Nueterra Global Alliance recently added Houston Physicians’ Hospital to its provider network of healthcare destinations for global patients. The hospital is home to a three-airport system, which services more than 7 million international travelers. Its geographic proximity to Central and South America makes Houston an ideal destination for medical travelers from the region.
“We see ample growth opportunities to provide our specialty services to the Latin American population,” said Michele Dionne, chief executive officer of Houston Physicians’ Hospital. “As populations age, their healthcare needs tend to change, requiring specialty care. Our reputation is built on specialty surgeries in orthopedic, spine, podiatry and plastic surgeries.”
Markets for medical tourism are sizeable and continue to gain exposure. A recent study revealed that one-out-of-five patients would definitely consider traveling abroad to seek medical or dental treatment.
“Domestic facilities are analyzing their service offerings and determining what is applicable to the global community,” said Dan Tasset, chairman of Nueterra. “People are demanding access to quality healthcare. We are providing borderless healthcare solutions through Nueterra Global Alliance.”