WellPoint Introduces International Medical Tourism Pilot Program

INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE: WLP), the nation's largest health benefits company in terms of medical membership, today announced a new international medical tourism pilot product that will allow members to access benefits for certain common elective procedures at designated facilities in India. Beginning in January 2009, WellPoint's affiliated health plan in Wisconsin will pilot the program with Serigraph, Inc., a Wisconsin-based global provider of printed decorating solutions.

Under the pilot program, Serigraph members planning to undergo certain procedures can enjoy access to an extended network of respected hospitals and health care providers in India. By electing to use the international benefit, members can receive care at accredited facilities at lower out-of-pocket costs for common non-emergency procedures that could result in thousands of dollars in total savings. The pilot program includes coverage of certain common non-emergency procedures such as major joint replacement, upper and lower back fusion, and other procedures that have significant cost differences between domestic and international providers.

"WellPoint is committed to finding innovative solutions to our nation's health care challenges and we continually evaluate new concepts. More and more employer clients have been asking about access to foreign providers as a means of reducing their claim expenditures," said Dr. Sam Nussbaum, chief medical officer for WellPoint. "Medical tourism is a promising option for improving access to affordable, quality health care. This program's innovative plan design empowers members to be more involved in the care they receive, and we are pleased to work with Serigraph."

Members who choose to access this international option will have a dedicated case manager who will coordinate all medical arrangements, including scheduling and concierge travel service. All travel arrangements will be booked and paid for, for both the member and a travel companion. The case manager will also help make arrangements for any necessary post-operative care upon the member's return to the United States.

All hospitals within the international program are accredited by the Joint Commission International, whose accreditation standards are based on international consensus standards and set uniform, achievable expectations for structures, processes and outcomes for hospitals. The program also complies with American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines for medical tourism.

"The market for many products and services has gone global-why not health care," said Linda Buntrock, senior vice president at Serigraph. "It will be interesting to see the competition for customers in the market for medical services and how many employees in our medium-sized company take advantage of this opportunity once we have the program in place. We hope our employees choose to access the international medical tourism option, which has the potential to greatly benefit their household budgets by cutting down out of pocket costs while retaining their ability to receive quality care."

About WellPoint, Inc.

WellPoint, Inc. is the largest health benefits company in terms of medical membership in the United States. WellPoint is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and serves its members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), Wisconsin; and through UniCare. Additional information about WellPoint is available at www.wellpoint.com.

About Serigraph

From the company's beginnings in an entrepreneur's garage in 1949, Serigraph Inc. has become one of the largest specialty printers in the world. Serigraph has grown to global leadership in screen and offset printing on plastics. The company employs over 1,200 people in the U.S., Mexico, and Asia to service companies with operations all over the world.

Co-workers at all levels of manufacturing, sales, executive management and support areas have an unmatched work ethic, coupled with an eagerness to learn and build quality into their work. A commitment to community involvement and activism are integral philosophies at Serigraph, with leaders from throughout the company involved in public and private organizations outside of work.

Serigraph's environmental ethic extends beyond meeting and exceeding regulatory edicts. The company has taken steps to retain the remaining rural character of its home in Washington County. Upon completion of the company headquarters in 1997, Serigraph undertook a prairie restoration project on the property. Preservation of green space and natural resources in the community are core values of the company.

SOURCE: WellPoint, Inc.

CONTACT: Jill Becher, +1-414-234-1573, [email protected]
Web site: http://www.wellpoint.com

Suggested Articles

The profit margins and management of Community Health Group raise questions about oversight of managed care insurers.

Financial experts are warning practices about the pitfalls of promoting medical credit cards to their patients.

A proposed rule issued by HHS on Tuesday would expand short-term coverage, a move Seema Verma said will have "virtually no impact" on ACA premiums.