Employer-based coverage and medical travel options: lessons for healthcare managers.

Document Type


Publication Date



Outbound medical travel (MT) involves U.S. patients going abroad to seek medical care. Over the past decade, there has been much discussion about MTs broadening appeal to several segments of U.S. healthcare consumers, but little is known about its penetration in the employer-based coverage (EBC) marketplace. The objectives of this article are to fill this gap and identify (1) the current status of MT options in EBC, (2) the differences between adopters and nonadopters of MT options, and (3) the factors that impede adoption. The results were obtained from a nationwide survey of human resources (HR) professionals making decisions regarding medical benefits. In this sample (n = 608), 16.8% of the respondents offered outbound MT options to their employees, often bypassing their insurance providers. Besides benefiting from a strong HR function, these organizations tended to be more involved in global business transactions, more open to change, more sensitive to cost savings, and more flexible in implementing administrative innovations than nonadopters were. An organizational climate conducive to innovation may explain their propensity to downplay the importance of well-known obstacles to implementation, such as the effort required to make changes, an emphasis on short-term goals, and the fear of liability. The lessons to be learned by U.S. healthcare managers are clear. To attract a value-conscious market, they must offer an attractive package of outstanding quality (clinical outcomes and patient experience) at competitive costs. Operational excellence may thus be the key to slowing the inevitable diffusion of MT options in EBC and maintaining or even expanding the U.S. market share of elective surgeries. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Recommended Citation

Karuppan, Corinne Marie. Employer-based coverage and medical travel options: lessons for healthcare managers." Journal of Healthcare Management 59, no. 3 (2014)."


Management and Information Systems