For the past two days, I attended the Medical Travel International Business Summit in Miami Beach. The summit was organized by ProMed, which is the Council for International Promotion of Costa Rica Medicine.
While the summit was much smaller than the 5th World Tourism and Global Health Care Congress that I attended in October 2012, nonetheless, it was informative and allowed me to finally meet a few of the people I have connected with on LinkedIn, and who have read my blog.
The first person I met on Wednesday was the woman who assisted a woman named Joy Guion, whose employer, HSM Solutions, I discussed in my post, US Companies Look to ‘Medical Tourism’ To Cut Costs. Maria Segovia is the Operations Manager for Medical Tours Costa Rica. Her company shared a booth with a company called GoEasy, a transportation company that was featured in the ABC report, and the Hotel Bougainvillea, a hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica. Maria told me about the CEO of another company, Rajesh Rao, who helped HSM send Joy and other HSM employees and their families for medical care in Costa Rica.
I spoke to Mr. Rao this morning after he gave a presentation entitled: Global Health Options: A Success Story in the US Employer Market. His company, IndUShealth, is based in Raleigh, NC and was founded in 2005. They signed their first employer client one year later, in 2006, and began serving HSM Solutions in 2008.
IndUShealth is now the leading corporate medical travel program administrator in the US, and provides comprehensive medical travel administrative solutions to self-funded employers. Their staff consists of a Medical Director and experienced Nurse Case Managers. The offer wide range of surgical procedures from bariatric surgery to several orthopedic procedures, and their partners in Costa Rica are the three companies I mentioned above, and the Clinica Biblica Hospital in San Jose.
On Wednesday, I also met, spoke to and attended the presentation of William Lacy, the President and CEO of the Association for Corporate Health Risk Management, or ACHRM. His booth was way in the corner in the back of the exhibit hall (figures they’d stick Risk Management people in a corner), and I introduced myself and told him about my background and we have some things in common that might lead to something down the road. During his presentation, he discussed why medical tourism should pursue self-funded employers. He cited a rapidly changing health care delivery model and that self-funded employers are a growing trend.
Two other individuals I met there yesterday were a husband and wife who I connected with on LinkedIn back in 2012, before I even attended the MTA Congress in October of that year. Their company, Custom Assurance Placements, Ltd., (CAP) is is a wholesale insurance broker in Columbia, SC. They provide excess and surplus lines as well as admitted markets for retail insurance agencies. They also create and manage custom programs needed for a selected risk or exposure group.
According to the LinkedIn profile of the President, Tracy Simons, CAP has markets for long haul trucking, coastal property, commercial auto, workers compensation, coastal homeowners, pollution liability, non-profit organizations, international travel insurance, foreign package policies and more. In addition, they have developed a medical travel accident product for medical travelers or medical tourists which covers complications and accidents called Global Protective Solutions. They also provide liability for employers and facilitators involved in medical tourism. Tracy has spoken on risk management for medical tourism or medical travel in several countries and cities around the world including Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Monaco, Spain, New York and Las Vegas.
I specifically wanted to mention these companies for a very good reason. There are a number of individuals in the workers’ compensation industry who poo-poo the idea of medical tourism in workers’ comp, whether it is for fully insured employers or for self-funded employers. While both the ACHRM and IndUShealth have worked with self-funded employers on the health care side to offer medical tourism as an option, there are companies and employer organizations out there who would probably be able to accommodate the workers’ comp industry in doing so, if they only realized that they are wasting far too much money chasing after fee schedules, negotiated prices that are still higher than what medical tourism can offer, or the favorite cost reduction program de jure. And with a company like Custom Assurance and their Global Protective Solutions company, the issue of liability and other issues can be addressed to the satisfaction of not only employers, but to carriers and medical tourism facilitators.
While going through my email, I found an article from the Workers’ Comp Insider blog’s Health Wonk Review. An article they featured from Insurance Journal, entitled 10 Challenges Ahead for Workers’ Compensation, by Andrea Wells, discussed some of the challenges that lie ahead for workers’ compensation. One area she mention was technology and innovation. Ms. Wells quoted Thomas Ryan, the CEO of Lynch Ryan & Associates, the publisher of the Workers’ Comp Insider blog , as saying the following: “When it comes to technological innovations, the health care industry’s advancements dwarf anything that’s developed in the workers’ comp industry for years.” The P/C insurance industry, Ryan says, “is very slow to innovate and is lagging behind other industries, as well as other parts of the insurance industry, in adoption and rapid movement to technology usage and innovation,” and goes on to say that “the workers’ comp industry is way behind and it must catch up.”
This is also true for the implementation of medical tourism into workers’ comp. Yes, there are barriers. Yes, there are those who benefit from and defend the broken dysfunctional system. Yes, there are others, who while calling for change, attack and criticize the very change that the health care side is looking at and that employers like HSM are offering to their employees as an option. Yes, there are politicians who get paid off by doctors, hospitals, and the other service providers to write workers’ comp rules and regulations that limit choice of medical provider and only protect the bottom-line of attorneys, doctors, hospitals and service providers. And yes, there are those, whose blind super-patriotism, egos, prejudices and knee-jerk reactions are holding back millions of injured American workers, both native-born and immigrants, from getting better medical care at lower cost, simply because they or their friends in the workers’ comp industry have a vested interest in keeping the status quo or with the increasing Latinization of the American workforce are willing to let them get sub-standard, expensive and sometimes needless treatment in the name of making a buck off of their pain and suffering.
We aren’t the best when it comes to providing health care, and there are pages and pages of data to support this and other problems we have in health care, but burying your head in the sand (or some other place) will not solve them. We need to look elsewhere, and countries like Costa Rica are providing the means and the resources to do so. The only thing lacking is the will to do it, and to swallow our stupid, vain, egocentric, super-patriotic, all-American, bullet-headed pride.