As US medical tourism promoters come to realise that fewer people than predicted are flying to foreign countries for medical procedures, they are starting to shift their focus a little closer to home.
Domestic US medical tourism is growing as medical travel agencies continue to hunt for the best deals for patients willing to look beyond their hometowns for care they think is better and less expensive.
Hospitals are looking for ways to attract new patients from within the US.
With this in mind, Aspirus Wausau Hospital plans to expand its target area by participating in a domestic medical travel network. The medical facility is one of a handful of US hospitals trying to compete for consumers using a value-based approach to medicine. Employers are setting up approved hospital lists where employees get reimbursed for travel and lodging and reduced co-payments. Otherwise, they get the company's standard insurance coverage.
Meanwhile, Boston-based medical tourism company Healthbase has established partnerships with several US healthcare providers to make affordable high quality medical care available to patients from the US, Canada and Mexico. It still also offers treatment overseas. Uninsured Americans have traditionally been charged much more than what insurance companies are charged for the same service by US hospitals. By negotiating for lower price for medical care, Healthbase's customers will pay even less than what insurance companies pay in specific cases for medical services. This means, a heart bypass tagged at over US$100,000 can now be had for under US$15,000, which closely matches the price of the operations overseas.
Likewise, medical tourism management expert Health Travel Guides has reached an agreement with The Krongrad Institute of Miami, Florida to develop affordable medical tourism options for prostate cancer patients in the US. Health Travel Guides CEO Herb Stephens said: “It is important for consumers to understand that they have healthcare options that do not necessarily mean travelling abroad.”