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Two local insurers pitching 'medical tourism'

November 12, 2008
Medical tourism is getting the attention of two Indianapolis-area insurance companies.

Carmel-based Seven Corners announced yesterday that it will offer coverage for medical complications if they arise during or after a trip overseas to receive surgery. Seven Corners claims it is the first insurer to offer such coverage.

Also, Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc. has been working with a Wisconsin employer to offer coverage for medical tourism. The pilot project with Serigraph Inc. will launch in January. WellPoint's program covers only procedures performed in India.

Medical tourism involves patients traveling to countries such as India to receive major surgery. Costs can run as much as 90-percent lower in India than in the United States. Americans typically travel overseas to receive Lasik, bariatric, orthopedic or plastic surgeries.

Seven Corners, citing a study by consulting firm Deloitte, said medical tourism is predicted to double from 2007 to 2010.

"More and more employer clients have been asking about access to foreign providers as a means of reducing their claim expenditures," said WellPoint's chief medical officer, Dr. Sam Nussbaum. "Medical tourism is a promising option for improving access to affordable, quality health care."

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