As promised last month, here is the Spotlight article from Medical Travel Today.com about Ashley Furniture’s foray into Medical Travel for their employees.
In case you missed it, here is the link to part 1 of the article.
An article in Arizona Central (see link below) highlights the problem with weight-loss surgery in Mexico.
This isn’t the first article on this subject, and won’t be the last, but the industry must clean up its act, stop patting yourselves on the back at all these fancy conferences around the world, come together to lay down guidelines and industry-driven protocols and standards of care and legal protections, and lastly, get rid of the crooks (you know who they and you are), charlatans, con men, and carnival barkers who promote medical travel, and give it a black eye.
Naturally, there are risks to any surgery, no matter where it occurs, but if medical travel is to be marketed as less costly, with better outcomes, the quacks and thieves must be removed from the industry.
Stop dissing each other, start cooperating with each other, and cut back on the conferences. Nobody of any real importance to the growth of the industry attends; only those who talk a great deal or are promoting their own businesses.
Here is a video that goes along with the article.
From the One Hand Washes the Other department comes the following Spotlight article from Medical Travel Today.com.
Ashley Furniture, based in Wisconsin, is one of the largest manufacturers of home furnishings in the world.
I met Rajesh Rao in 2014 when I attended the Costa Rican Medical Travel Summit in Miami Beach. Rajesh’s company was also instrumental in convincing another furniture manufacturer, HSM in North Carolina, to first send patients to India, then to Costa Rica for medical care. I have written about this in previous posts.
This article is part one, and part two will run next month.
On Sunday, NBC Nightly News ran a video report on dental care in Los Algodones, Mexico, south of the border from Arizona, and west of Yuma.
According to the report, during the winter months, up to 7,000 Americans travel to Los Algodones for dental care.
Los Algodones, also known as “Molar City”, is the self-proclaimed dental capital of the world. While that sounds like hype, I can tell you from personal experience that it is not the only town on the border where one can find dozens of dental offices.
When I presented at the 5th Mexico Medical Tourism and Wellness Business Summit in 2014, I visited a town east of Reynosa called Nuevo Progresso where I saw some of the dental offices, along with some of the other attendees.
Here is the video from NBC.
And here are some pictures from Nuevo Progresso.
I took these pictures in a small medical center on the main street of Nuevo Progresso, just over the border from Texas. To the left of the picture on the left, is the bridge crossing the Rio Grande (Rio Bravo) into the US.
And the people I saw on the street were not Mexicans, they were Americans.
Still think medical travel is a stupid and ridiculous idea? Try telling it to the thousands who go across the border.
Seven years ago, when I was working on my MHA degree, I wrote a paper which has become the basis of this blog.
During that time, I found the website of the Department of Labor & Industries for Washington State, and was surprised to find landing pages that listed physicians in Canada, Mexico, and other countries. These countries were mentioned in my paper, and I have referred to it in subsequent posts from time to time.
However, in the period since, I have noticed that the landing page for other countries was removed. I contacted WA state a while back and was told they were updating it. Yet, as of recently, it is still not been replaced, so I contacted them again yesterday.
I received a reply from Cheryl D’Angelo-Gary, Health Services Analyst at the WA Department of Labor & Industries. She indicated in her response that she is the business owner of the Find a Doctor application (FAD).
According to Ms. D’Angelo-Gary, “our experience showed that most of Washington’s injured workers who leave the country travel to one of these adjacent nations. Workers who travel further afield are advised to work with their claim manager to locate (or likely recruit) a provider. All worker comp claims with overseas mailing addresses are handled by a team of claim managers who have some extra training to help the worker find a qualified provider.”
I asked her to clarify this statement further in my next email by asking if this means that any claimant who travels outside of North America will have to ask the claims manager to find them a doctor.
She replied, “interesting questions!” She also differentiated between an injured worker who is traveling versus one who has relocated out of country.
She went on to say that, “a worker who is traveling and needs claim-related care would be instructed to seek treatment at an ER or urgent care clinic, where the providers do not need to be part of our network and would not be providing ongoing treatment. To be paid, the provider would have to send us a bill and a completed non-network application (available online). Under no circumstances should the provider bill the worker.”
However, she continued, “a worker who has relocated overseas must send in a change of address (required whenever a worker moves). That allows us to transfer management of the claim to a unit that specializes in out-of-country claims. The claim manager would work with the injured worker to help the worker find somebody in their new location. It’s critical (per state law) that the worker choose their own provider, though the provider must meet our requirements and standards of care. Proactive workers tend to handle this well, and find a provider in very little time; less proactive workers can find this challenging. We’re currently looking at this process to see how we can do this better.”
And in final emails to her last night, I tied the first scenario to medical travel, and the second scenario to ex-pats living abroad, but needing medical care. I also asked about workers who wanted to travel back to their home country for medical care, and said that I write about medical travel for workers’ comp.
As of today, I have not heard back, but it is early, and there is a three-hour difference between us.
It must be pointed out that WA state is what is termed a ‘monopolistic state’ in that the state does all the work of handling workers’ comp insurance and claims. Thus, when Ms. D’Angelo-Gary says that worker must work with the claim manager, the claim manager in question is a state employee, and not an employee of a commercial insurance company.
It may be possible, therefore, for medical travel to be implemented in workers’ comp, and it should be something that the medical travel industry and the state should explore together. Ms. D’Angelo-Gary did say they were looking at this process to do better. What better way to improve the process then by utilizing medical travel?
In picking a fight with Mexico over the building of a wall on the US/Mexico border, the current illegitimate occupant of the Oval Office is not only threatening the relationship with our nearest neighbor to the South, but with our number two trading partner, as the following stats point out for 2016:
2016 : U.S. trade in goods with Mexico
Total 2016 Exports: 211,848.7
By threatening to slap a 20% import tax on goods from Mexico, including his ties, this so-called businessman, will hurt the very farmers who voted for him, as well as the workers who buy their household goods from Walmart and other low-cost outlets, as many parts or food items are made or grown in Mexico. When I spoke at a medical tourism conference in Reynosa in 2014, we drove along the border area where the maquiladoras are located and saw that one of them makes frozen food that is sold across the border. Want to pay 20% more for that frozen TV dinner?
Then there is all that cerveza and tequila and mescal, not to mention avocados and guacamole that will cost more. Stay very thirsty my friends, because it will cost you more to drink with the most interesting man in the world, and all thanks to the least interesting man in the world.
What then does this mean for cross-border medical care?
If Herr Trump gets his way, not only will Mexican goods get more expensive, but if we get into a trade war, look for costs of medical care south of the border to go up as well, or even slow to a crawl or not at all. There is a hospital being built in Tijuana with the assistance of Scripps Health, and as I’ve written about in the past, the Insurance Company of the West already writes workers’ comp policies to include cross-border healthcare for their insured’s whose employees live in Mexico, but work in California.
Since the passage of NAFTA, trade between the US and Mexico has increased, and the towns along the border have benefitted from it. Back then, the talk of building a NAFTA superhighway was met with strong and fierce resistance (I was living in Texas at the time), but I realized that we already had one. It’s called Interstate 35, and runs from the Canadian border to the Mexican border, as does Interstate 5 on the West Coast.
In two earlier posts, I discussed a case in Arizona where the injured worker received two benefits, one from Mexico and one from Arizona (https://richardkrasner.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/nafta-work-comp-and-cross-border-medical-care-a-legal-view/) and (https://richardkrasner.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/nafta-work-comp-and-cross-border-medical-care-a-legal-view-update/).
So before you book that trip to Cancun for your tummy tuck or face lift, check to see if there is a 20% tax imposed on your flight, hotel, food, etc., from either the US or Mexican governments. If so, thank the orange-haired son of an orangutan.
Teresa Bartlett, wrote last Friday in Insurance Thought Leadership.com about the precautions employers can take to avoid the Zika virus, and how to think about it.
She raises the following questions, and gives insightful answers:
The entire article can be read here.
Now that summer is almost upon us in the US, employers and those in other industries, like health care and medical travel, as well as the travel industry itself, should be fully aware of these facts.
Only time will tell before we have native cases of Zika here. You must be prepared.
I am willing to work with any broker, carrier, or employer interested in saving money on expensive surgeries, and to provide the best care for their injured workers or their client’s employees.
Ask me any questions you may have on how to save money on expensive surgeries under workers’ comp.
I am also looking for a partner who shares my vision of global health care for injured workers.
I am also willing to work with any health care provider, medical tourism facilitator or facility to help you take advantage of a market segment treating workers injured on the job. Workers’ compensation is going through dramatic changes, and may one day be folded into general health care. Injured workers needing surgery for compensable injuries will need to seek alternatives that provide quality medical care at lower cost to their employers. Caribbean and Latin America region preferred.
Call me for more information, next steps, or connection strategies at (561) 738-0458 or (561) 603-1685, cell. Email me at: email@example.com.
Will accept invitations to speak or attend conferences.
Transforming Workers’ Comp Blog is now viewed all over the world in over 250 countries and political entities. I have published nearly 300 articles, many of them re-published in newsletters and other blogs.
Share this article, or leave a comment below.