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Healthcare Reform ~It is Growing Medical Tourism


People for months have been guessing at what kind of healthcare reformlegislation President Obama will propose in front of the US Congress. Evidently,some of that guesswork is over as the Associated Press Reported on July 14th about someplanned aspects of the proposed healthcare reform.

President Obama is attempting to have healthcare reform legislation implemented before the end of the summer. In a conversation with Senator Max Baucus, Chairman of the Finance Committee, President Obama indicated that he wants legislation ready by July 17th, according to numerous Democratic officials. The purpose of the healthcare legislation proposal would be“that it can ensure quality, affordable care for every American at lower costs.”

The legislation is supposed to be introduced in the House of Representatives as early as July 17th for discussion and debate and eventually move on to a vote. The proposed legislation would prohibit health insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher premiums on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions.

And it would spend  billions of dollars subsidizing lower-income individuals and families who cannot afford coverage in an attempt to cut dramatically into the numbers of the uninsured.

The legislation is also expected to impose a fee on large companies that fail to offer insurance and individuals who refuse to purchase affordable insurance will have to pay a penalty. Of the more criticized aspects, this legislation is supposed to propose a new income tax on the wealthy, estimated to raise more than $500 billion over the next decade. We’ll see how that sits with the fundraising Obama constituents.

Democratic leaders have indicated that they’re increasing the size of the exemption for small businesses from a requirement for employers to provide health care to their employees. The exemption is expected to increase from businesses with payrolls of $100,000 to those with payrolls of $250,000.

And how will these dollars be spent? Evidently, President Obama believes one way to save on healthcare costs is to reduce spending on procedures for which evidence shows it may not necessarily improve care for the sick and the dying. The suggestion is that perhaps a painkiller is preferable to surgery.

Interestingly, the cost of a government based healthcare system will dictate whether sick family members die or receive surgery. Essentially, the cost to the government for a heart operation or expensive cancer treatment will be the decisive factor under the Obama plan as to whether they receive it.

This cost/benefit analysis between the cost to the government and the benefit of  extending your life is then put into the hands of politicians. Interesting indeed for medical tourism.

The big part of the proposal of providing healthcare at “lower costs” has not been addressed and it seems like the proverbial “cart being put before the horse.” By forcing health insurance companies to provide healthcare to people with no pre-existing condition clause, will force insurance companies to insure potentially hundreds of thousands or millions of Americans with serious health conditions that were previously not insured.

This means that health insurance premiums and costs would rise for other employers and Americans who have health insurance because they would be subsidizing the sicker Americans. This has already been seen to happen in several states in the US that put in mandated health insurance benefits and requirements, where certain employers pay more for their healthcare because they are subsidizing the cost for employers who have sick employees or employees with health conditions.


Also, if part of the solution is the US government “subsidizing costs” through taxes on wealthy Americans, this means that the US government is not addressing at all why costs for healthcare are so high and doing anything to lower healthcare costs.

This means that Obama’s plan not only doesn’t lower costs, but has a huge chance to significantly increase the already overpriced cost for healthcare in America, and it means while the government forces healthcare on everyone, healthcare costs will continue to rise and continue to become even more  unaffordable than before. This presents a HUGE opportunity for medical tourism, and the passing of this legislation could lead to even greater adoption of medical tourism as one of the only ways to reduce healthcare costs.

New health insurance plans that are being developed which incorporate medical tourism,could very well meet the purposes of the Obama legislation by providing health insurance at lower costs than a normal plan. Either way this should be very exciting for the medical tourism industry.

We are very excited about the potential for Obama’s healthcare reform to create a huge boom for medical tourism and make it more attractive than ever. The MTA has already received many inquiries from US employers and health insurance agents that feel Obama’s plan will push more people towards medical tourism.


Renee-Marie Stephano is a Founder and President of the Medical Tourism Association, also known as MTA, the first internationalnon-profit trade association for the medical tourism industry. Ms. Stephano also serves as general counsel for the MTA and is Editorof the Medical Tourism Magazine.

Ms. Stephano received her Juris Doctorate degree in Law in Pennsylvania. She has a background in international marketing and health law and then went on to open her own law firm, spending six years serving as general counsel for a US national healthcare administrator which was the first US healthcare administrator to implement medical tourism into both self-funded and fully insured health plans in the United States.

Ms. Stephano works full time for the Medical Tourism Association and is considered an expert in medical tourism. In her role at the Medical Tourism Association, Ms. Stephano helps countries and hospitals create strategic marketing plans and helps identify target markets. She has helped many countries and hospitals achieve their goals of attracting foreign patients and international insurance companies.

Ms. Stephano works with global health care providers to maintain transparency with respect to quality of care as they increase their flow of patients and she also works with medical travel facilitators to establish best practices to ultimately ensure patient safety.

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