I received a blog post the other day from a blog I subscribe to called “Managed Care Matters”, published by Joseph Paduda. The post referenced a report in December’s Atlantic Magazine, entitled, “The Insourcing Boom”. In the report, and the posting by Paduda, a number of US companies are bringing jobs back to the US from China, Mexico, and Southeast Asia.
The reasons for this insourcing range from oil prices for transporting good by ship are higher now than they were twelve years ago, energy costs in the US due to the natural-gas boom have reduced energy costs for manufacturing, Chinese wages rising, adaption of American unions and American labor becoming more productive, reducing cost of manufacturing.
Paduda also mentions that since much of the manufacturing today is more automated than in the past, the working conditions, issues of safety, types of injuries, and risk management are not the same. What that means is there will be fewer accidents to fingers and limbs, but more injuries caused by repetitive action, which may present conditions for implementing medical tourism into workers’ compensation to surgically correct problems from repetitive motion injuries to the wrist, the back, etc.
Workers’ Compensation benefits for loss of fingers and limbs, especially the forearm and hands, are generally determined by what is called, Schedule Loss of Use awards, to claimants, and the surgical procedures are paid according to the individual state’s fee schedule for those procedures. For repetitive motion injuries, even those paid under a fee schedule, the cost of the procedure abroad may still be cheaper, and at the same and better quality of care available in US hospitals, so back injuries, carpal tunnel injuries and similar injuries would be cheaper in many medical tourism destinations.
The boom in manufacturing in the US may portend a boom in medical tourism opportunities in workers’ compensation as well.