AHCJ Board Member and Kaiser Health News reporter Julie Appleby explores the emerging phenomenon of domestic medical tourism, a catchy name for the corporate art of comparison-shopping for hospitals across the country.
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“By steering workers to facilities with high-quality care and lower prices,” Appleby writes, “employers say they can reduce their costs 20 percent to 40 percent — more than enough to cover the travel expenses.” The reduction in the cost comes not just from cheaper service, but because treatment at higher-quality centers leads to fewer complications.
There’s no universal national clearinghouse for the sort of data companies are using for this comparison shopping, and each of the field’s pioneers seem to have a different method. At least one uses the hospital ratings produced by Health Grades, while Lowes has signed a deal with the Cleveland Clinic. Employees are sometimes reluctant to travel, but the prospect of cheaper, better care has proved attractive.
Appleby’s sources found the trend difficult to quantify, but clearly growing.