Step right up. Get yer knee replacement right here….

The Wall Street Journal recently had a story about employers encouraging their workers to stay in the US for medical care rather than travel abroad.

The upshot is this: Some US companies had been negotiating deals with providers overseas for certain procedures because it’s so much cheaper. An example in the story: hip replacements in the US cost about $43,000 versus $9,000 in Singapore.

To keep business in the US, some providers are saying they can match the third-world pricing. These providers are now collected in a nationwide network: Healthplace America. This company wouldn’thealth insurance coverage, which gives workers access to routine medical care where they live. It specializes in a network of certain high-dollar procedures — heart, spinal, bariatric procedures, cancer treatments, etc. The company is able to extract deep discounts — as much as 50% from providers — because they pay for procedures up front, saving providers the headache of billing insurance companies for the procedures and chasing down the payments.

I’m not sure what I think about this policywise. But reading it brought two things to mind.

First, what an elaborate thing for an employer to have to do. It just reinforces what a silly system we have. Healthplace America is a third-party contractor doing most of the work, but for businesses, which are in business to do something entirely different, like produce skateboard wheels, what a headache to have to deal with this as well.

Secondly: a 50% discount to get insurers out of the picture? I’ll take that.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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