Agencies tap into medical tourism

GlobalChoice Healthcare is signing an exclusive partnerships with two key regional travel
agencies to provide medical travel services to consumers seeking medical
care overseas.
  The first agreement is with Rio Grande Travel, an Albuquerque-based
agency with 11 offices in the Southwest and three in Illinois, including
more than 300 corporate clients and a large individual client base. The
second agreement is with Solimar Travel Experience, a boutique travel
agency based in Washington, D.C. that specializes in Costa Rican tourism.
  “Understandably, individuals considering medical travel often inquire
first with a travel agency,” says Kenneth J. Erickson, Jr., chief executive
officer of GlobalChoice Healthcare. “But, traveling overseas for medical
care shouldn’t be taken lightly, and it should be coordinated by a company
focused on medicine. By joining forces with these leading travel agencies,
we can assist prospective clients in streamlining their search for
affordable, high-quality health care.”
  Under the terms of the agreement, any Rio Grande or Solimar clients
requesting medical travel will be referred to GlobalChoice to provide all
medical travel-related services. These services include scheduling clients’
procedures, transferring medical records, arranging travel and
accommodations, and providing access to on-the-ground local assistance for
the duration of clients’ stay.
  GlobalChoice works with a network of world-class hospitals in
Singapore, Costa Rica, and India, and provides access to more than 100
medical procedures, including certain orthopedic, cardiovascular, cosmetic
and dental surgeries.
  With the ranks of the uninsured climbing to 45 million, and health care
costs increasing by an average of 10 percent per year, medical care is
out-of-reach for many Americans. This year alone, upwards of 500,000
Americans are expected to travel overseas for medical care where, in many
countries, costs can average 50 to 70 percent less than in the U.S.
According to David Hancock, author of The Complete Medical Tourist, global
medical tourism is expected to be a $40 billion-a-year industry by 2010.