Saturday, November 05, 2005

Health policy: outsourcing medical care

There's an interesting article at about southern California HMO's that require their patients to receive nonemergency care in Mexico. Maybe this only seems mindblowing to me because I live so far north of the border with Mexico:
Five years ago, California became the only state to regulate insurance programs that require border crossing for basic health care. Since then, more than 700 non-agricultural businesses have offered plans requiring treatment in Mexico. Hundreds of farms offer similar coverage for about 120,000 migrant laborers.

At the Santaluz golf resort in San Diego, where Gonzales supervises golf course maintenance, workers can sign up for a Blue Shield of California plan called Access Baja. Their doctor visits are covered in the United States or Mexico, while their families are covered only in Mexico. Dale Standfast, the resort's controller, said several workers whose dependents were not covered switched plans to cover their families.

Offering Access Baja saves the resort about $1,000 per month in premiums, he said. This year the club used the savings to offer vision coverage to all employees for the first time, Standfast said.Lower-priced labor, malpractice insurance and overhead in Mexico mean both basic and sophisticated medical procedures can be performed at a small fraction of the cost. A hysterectomy that averages $2,025 in the United States costs $810 in Mexico, said Mary Eadson, director of legal compliance for the Western Growers Association, an agricultural organization that provides health insurance for California workers in Mexico.
Passport to Health Care At Lower Cost to Patient

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