SOURCE: National Business Group on Health

July 15, 2008 11:43 ET

National Business Group on Health Releases Issue Brief on Employer-Provided Medical Tourism

NBGH Offers Employers Tips to Evaluate Whether to Provide Medical Tourism Coverage

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - July 15, 2008) - With the view that medical tourism may be an innovative approach to expanding access to lower cost, sometimes higher quality health care, the National Business Group on Health, a non-profit association of more than 300 large U.S. employers, today released an Issue Brief on Medical Tourism to inform and guide employers in their evaluation of this option for their organizations.

The NBGH's Issue Brief on Medical Tourism comes at a time when a growing number of U.S. employers, consumers, and other stakeholders are investigating the benefits of going abroad for non-urgent medical procedures. Estimated at $60 billion in 2006, the size of the worldwide medical tourism market is projected to reach $100 billion by 2012.

"As U.S. employers continue to explore cost-effective health care options for their organizations, medical tourism will continue to garner considerable attention and investment," said Helen Darling, President of the National Business Group on Health. "While robust media attention and key stakeholders continue to tout the significant cost differentials afforded by offshore care, and drive interest in this innovative approach, employers should have a clear understanding of the critical issues involved in medical tourism."

The Issue Brief defines medical tourism and provides statistics about the current marketplace; identifies those procedures most commonly performed abroad; lists most frequented destination countries and evaluation of destination country standards, and explores the key drivers of current interest in/use of medical tourism. The Issue Brief also examines the critical issues necessary to effectively evaluate inclusion of medical tourism coverage, which include: quality of care, patient suitability, benefit coverage components, care coordination, legal/liability issues, and the potential versus actual cost savings of medical tourism. An employer case study and the results of a 2008 medical tourism survey of Business Group members are also included.

"There are a number of significant reasons -- expanded access, cost-effectiveness, competitive pressures on U.S. providers, and safe health outcomes -- for employers to consider adding coverage of medical tourism to their benefits package," said Ms. Darling. "However, prior to facilitating treatment abroad, it's essential that employers undertake a comprehensive due diligence process to ensure that inclusion of this benefit is worthwhile for their organizations."

Attention Editors: For a copy of the Issue Brief, or to arrange an interview with Ms. Darling, please contact Ed Emerman at eemerman@eaglepr.com or 609-275-5162.

About the National Business Group on Health

The National Business Group on Health is the nation's only non-profit, membership organization of large employers devoted exclusively to finding innovative and forward-thinking solutions to their most important health care and related benefits issues. The NBGH identifies and shares best practices in health benefits, disability, health and productivity, related paid time off and work/life balance issues. NBGH members provide health coverage for more than 50 million U.S. workers, retirees and their families. For more information about the NBGH, visit www.businessgrouphealth.org.

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