Companies Offshore Medical Care
All businesses have a similar complaint. The cost of health care is becoming increasingly burdensome to companies faced with so many other cost and competitive pressures.
To help it keep costs under control, Blue Ridge Paper Products is testing a new approach. It is sending an employee who needs operations overseas to India to have the procedures done. Beginning in 2007, Blue Ridge Paper will offer employees a health benefit plan that includes obtaining medical services overseas.
As it turns out, many individuals can fly across the ocean and get the medical care they need at a fraction of the cost in the U.S.
Carl Garrett, the paper-mill technician who is going over to India, said his procedures will save Blue Ridge Paper $50,000. Mr. Garrett will also see some payback from going overseas. First, he’ll get to see the Taj Mahal as part of a two-day tour he’ll take prior to going to the hospital. Secondly, he will receive a check for up to $10,000 from Blue Ridge as his share of the savings the company realized by Mr. Garrett seeking his medical care outside the U.S.
Darrell Douglas, vice president of human resources, told The Christian Science Monitor, “We want to help our company but also help to drive healthcare reform. We’re very much homebodies … and the idea of going abroad for fun, let alone healthcare, is foreign to some people. But we do have some adventuresome people, and [Mr. Garrett] is one.”
Alain Enthoven, senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy in Stanford, Calif., said there will be more companies and individuals following the route of Blue Ridge Paper and Carl Garrett in the future.
“Global healthcare is coming and American healthcare, which is pricing itself out of reach, needs to know there are alternatives,” he said.
Tom Keesling, president of IndUShealth, a firm specializing in offshoring serious medical cases to India, said, “We’re dealing mostly with companies that are self-funded and have essentially run out of options. It’s an amazing trend, and it speaks to the tremendous frustration people feel with how to provide healthcare services in our current environment.”
Discussion Question: Will companies in the retail and related industries see offshoring medical care as a means to keep costs under control?