MA PPO offers medical tourism option

Here's a deal which, while unusual today, is likely to become far more common in the future. Marlborough, MA-based Pinnacle Health, a PPO offering provider networks to self-funded employers, has struck a deal with a New Zealand-based healthcare network which allows the companies' U.S. employees to travel there for care. The New Zealand network, Medtral New Zealand, focuses on a handful of key specialties, including renal specialists, orthopedics, cardiologists, urologists, gynecologists and plastic surgeons. New Zealand still offers a care at a substantial discount over U.S. rates; for example, heart bypass surgery that might cost $110,000 in the U.S. might cost $38,000 there. 

Pinnacle, which contracts with more than 3,000 providers in northeastern U.S., says that it's the first PPO to make such a move. We here at FierceHealthcare can't necessarily vouch for that statement, but we haven't encountered any PPOs striking such deals, so they may be right. Most big employers, for their part, continue to be a bit cautious about encouraging medical tourism--even when employees go voluntarily and split the cost-savings--given some of the backlash they've faced from unions in the past year or two.

To learn more about this deal:
- read this Medtral release

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