Healthbase, the leading US-based medical tourism provider, has partnered with a JCI accredited German hospital in order to bring wider options and greater convenience to Americans, Canadians, Europeans and others looking for affordable, timely and high quality medical and dental treatments.

Healthbase Online Inc., the leading and award-winning medical tourism facilitator based in Boston, MA, has announced partnership with a Joint Commission International accredited hospital in Germany. With the addition of this JCI accredited hospital, Healthbase now has a network of over 100 health care and dental care providers spread across 18 countries. For the medical tourist it means more choices, wider variety and greater convenience.

According to Saroja Mohanasundaram, CEO of Healthbase, “With growing demands from our consumer base for a quality tertiary medical care center in Europe, we are excited to have our newest Germany-based healthcare provider onboard. Our new member provider is JCI-accredited thereby giving the peace of mind to our patients regarding the high standards of quality that will be delivered by it. Our German provider offers a full complement of services and is an excellent choice for patients looking for orthopedic, spinal and bariatric treatments at a much discounted rate compared to USA and much faster access to service compared to that offered by public health care systems in Canada or the UK.”

For patients from Europe, especially from the European Union (EU), this would be as good as going to a local hospital with the advantage of high or higher standard of service and without the inconvenience of the infamous waitlists as seen in government-sponsored healthcare systems such as the National Health Service or NHS in the United Kingdom.

The hospital offers procedures like joint replacement procedures (such as hip replacement surgery and knee replacement surgery), spinal procedures (such as spine fusion surgery and artificial disc replacement surgery), and weight-loss procedures (such as lap band surgery, gastric bypass or RNY procedure and gastric sleeve surgery), among hundreds of other procedures.

The favorable geographical location of Germany means that for patients coming from North America the flight times are shorter compared to other famous medical tourism destinations such as those in Asia. For those traveling from other European countries it is at a stone’s throw.

Mohanasundaram adds, “We have carefully chosen our German provider after a rigorous selection process keeping in mind all aspects of affordable, safe and top quality medical tourism care. Patients can expect as much as 50 to 70% less cost compared to the cost of care in other developed countries such as the United States. Also, the staffs at our German provider speak English, thus, making communication easy.”

Healthbase has the biggest and geographically most expanded network of healthcare and dental care providers in the industry. Patients have a wide selection of destinations to choose from for their low cost high quality medical care and dental care needs. These include Germany, India, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, New Zealand, Jordan, Turkey, Hungary, Belgium, Spain, Costa Rica, Panama, Brazil, Mexico, and USA.

Healthbase serves the American, Canadian, European, African, Asian, Middle-Eastern and Asia Pacific markets, and offers more than 200 procedures.

About Healthbase Online Inc.:
Healthbase, an award-winning US-based medical tourism and dental tourism facilitator, is a one-stop source for global medical and dental choices, connecting patients to leading internationally accredited healthcare providers in 18 countries including India, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Turkey, Germany, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and USA. Healthbase caters to individual consumers, self-funded businesses, insurers, benefits plan consultants, third party administrators and those using Consumer Directed Healthcare Plans (CDHPs) or voluntary benefit plans. Healthbase coordinates over 200 procedures in various categories like orthopedic, spinal, cardiac, bariatric, urology, oncology, dental, cosmetic and general surgery. Some of the common procedures offered are Birmingham hip resurfacing, total hip replacement, knee replacement, ACL repair, rotator cuff surgery, spinal fusion, spinal disk replacement, heart bypass surgery, lap band, gastric bypass, cancer treatment, liposuction, dental implants, crowns, bridges, etc. for a fraction of the cost in the US with equal or superior outcomes. To ensure that patients receive the best care possible, Healthbase works mainly with hospitals that have international accreditations like JCI. To learn more, call 1-888-691-4584, email info.hb @ healthbase.com or visit http://www.healthbase.com.

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The health insurer Wellpoint is testing a new program that gives covered patients the option of going to India for elective surgery, with no out-of-pocket medical costs and free travel for both the patient and a companion.

The program is being tested at Serigraph, a printing company in Wisconsin whose managers have been looking for ways to curb rising health care costs, said Dr. Razia Hashmi, chief medical officer for national accounts for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which is affiliated with Wellpoint.

“This is a first for us,” Dr. Hashmi said. “We will be monitoring every aspect of this very closely, to make sure everyone is satisfied and there are good clinical outcomes.”

By the year 2010, more than 6 million Americans annually will be seeking medical treatment abroad , according to the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, a consultancy. The potential savings are significant. Knee surgery that costs $70,000 to $80,000 in the United States can be performed in India for $8,000 to $10,000, including follow-up care and rehabilitation, Dr. Hashmi said. Similar savings could be achieved for such common procedures as hip replacements and spine surgery .

If other insurers follow Wellpoint, Dr. Hashmi said, the trend ultimately may pressure on United States hospitals to be more competitive in their pricing.

Critics say that’s unlikely.

“There have been some reports of hospitals that have been willing to match the prices, but I don’t know how they’re doing that,” said Howard Berliner, a professor of health policy and management at State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. “The reality is there’s just no way that most hospitals can respond to this. It’s just like any service that’s outsourced – the price is so cheap abroad that there isn’t much an American company can do about it.”

At the same time, he said, the program could potentially siphon off the healthiest, most profitable patients from a local hospital.

Dr. Hashmi predicted that the program would appeal primarily to people who have traveled abroad. Many employees of Serigraph, which has offices in India, are familiar with the country.

“The quality is comparable” to care provided in the United States, Dr. Hashmi said. All the physicians speak English, and patients can share their medical records and consult with a surgeon in India before making the trip, she said.

The pilot program arranges for patients to be picked up at the airport and provides special meals to prevent food-borne illnesses. The program complies with the American Medical Association guidelines on medical tourism and uses hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission International.

Dr. Hashmi said it had actually been easier to evaluate the quality of medical care abroad than in the United States. “There is a lot more willingness to share data about complication rates, the total number of procedures and the outcomes,” Dr. Hashmi said. “We’re able to get detail per hospital and per physician.”

In addition to saving out-of-pocket costs for surgery for patients, the program could potentially help keep insurance premiums affordable, Dr. Hashmi said.

More at: NY Times

For information about affordable surgery overseas, visit Healthbase.