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Medical Tourism Reaches Benefits Radar Screen

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Employers with leading-edge benefits packages are continuing to look for new ways to set themselves apart from the competition.

Researchers at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, Brookfield, Wis., have mapped some of the changes in a summary of results from an informal survey of large employers’ health care benefits eligibility, coverage and exclusion choices.

Participants in the survey included representatives from about 400 U.S. employers, professional services providers, public employers and multiemployer plans.

About 99.7% of the participants affiliated with individual employers said their employers offer health benefits for full-time employees, and 50% cover part-time employees.

Today, 92% cover opposite-sex spouses, and 37% cover same-sex unmarried domestic partners.

About 30% cover opposite-sex unmarried domestic partners, and 29% cover same-sex spouses.

When researchers asked about alternative care, 80% of participants said their employer plans cover chiropractic care and 33% said their employer plans cover acupuncture or acupressure.

The researchers also asked about coverage for “medical tourism,” or the relatively new strategy of seeking medical care in countries where care is cheaper than in the United States.

About 11% of the participants said their employer plans cover care obtained through medical tourism.


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