By Victoria Knight, Dow Jones Newswires

A post recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal Blog which talked about Healthbase, Healthbase’s customers and the latest trend in medical tourism or global healthcare – traveling from one state to another within the United States in search for cheaper prices for major surgeries. Healthbase is one company that has been helping American patients connect to affordable hospitals in the US for major surgeries. The author writes,

Uninsured Americans also are shopping around for surgery in the U.S. in record numbers, and using new services such as Healthbase Online Inc. , a Boston-based medical brokerage that arranges treatments for patients at health-care facilities worldwide. Rodney Larson, a self-employed electrician from Minnesota, used Healthbase Online to arrange a triple heart bypass at Galichia Heart Hospital in Wichita, Kansas. He paid $13,000 flat fee for the surgery, about $90,000 dollars less than the rate for uninsured patients in Minnesota.

The current economic conditions…

Worsening economic conditions have made employers and workers more inventive in dealing with ever-rising health-care costs. Some are taking advantage of new health services that offer fixed rates for surgery to patients willing to travel to get care.

The financial benefits of domestic and international medical tourism cannot be overlooked and some insurers have taken active steps to reduce the health care costs for their clients in this slowing economy by offering them medical tourism options. The author mentions about the forward thinking by some health insurers and writes,

It’s a strategy that giving some insurers food for thought. WellPoint Inc., the nation’s largest health insurer, is currently evaluating programs and benefits where customers can “elect to seek certain services at designated facilities for a fixed per-case rate ,” according to a spokeswoman, Jill Becher.

Others insurers aren’t sold on asking customers to travel for health care. Aetna Inc. says it already negotiates significant discounts with medical providers. Typically, it pays physicians within three days of submitting a claim, so up-front cash payments aren’t a strong incentive for achieving additional discounts, according to a company spokesperson.

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More at: Wall Street Journal Blog

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