Employers everywhere are in a difficult situation of finding the best possible care for their employees for the best possible value. Everyone wants the best surgeon operating on them, but getting the best comes at a price. Some American companies are discovering that this old wisdom does not necessarily ring true anymore. By negotiating with hospitals renowned for their quality of care, employers can make sure their employees get the treatment they need a cost that will not drive the medical plan to insolvency. This is something called domestic medical tourism.
A famous example of domestic medical tourism is the home-improvement chain Lowe’s, who sends all of their 161,000 employees to famous Cleveland Clinic for all of their heart health needs. The hospital receives a guaranteed steady stream of patients, Lowe’s get to ensure their employees are healthy and able to get back to work quickly, and the employees receive a needed surgery which is covered 100 percent by Lowe’s – along with all travel and lodging costs for the employee and a relative.
In 2013, Walmart began offering heart and spine surgeries at their one of their six “Centers of Excellence” to their 1.1 million employees and their families. These centers of excellence include the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Geisinger Medical Center, the Mayo Clinic, Scott & White Memorial Hospital and Mercy Hospital Springfield, which is the closest one to their Evansville headquarters.
The non-profit Employers Health Coalition, a business alliance of more than 300 companies also began offering their own domestic medical tourism initiative, showing the future of the practice will not only be in the hands of large employers.
While this may cause some employees to travel away from their homes to receive medical care, a difficult time for anyone without adding the stress of travelling on top of it. But the patients who travel can expect to receive better care than they would have at home, with less chance of readmission. This means less time in the hospital, and less chance of infection. Some employees may even end up with some money in their pocket as an incentive to travel. And this still saves their employers money!