Bonn, 22.04.17 - Changes is inevitable for the global healthcare sector. Health care providers, payers, governments and other stakeholders, such as insurance companies, seek to provide effective and financially profitable assistance to consumers of healthcare services. All the parties are united by the ecosystem that makes its way through the dramatic swing within the clinical, insurance and customer-related models. Population growth and increased focus on globalisation fuels the swing. Hence, patients experience fewer restrictions and are able to focus on the best quality of healthcare abroad.
In 2017-2018, The Economist Intelligence (EIU) reported reduced investments into healthcare systems in more than 60 countries. This reflects the weakness of other currencies against the US dollar. World Health Organization (WHO), in its turn, shows in reports that health spending varies greatly between developed and developing countries.
It is noteworthy, that the number of high-income households (those earning more than $ 25,000 per year) will grow to more than 540 million globally in the emerging markets, like Asia and the Middle East. This way, growing income, reduced or fixed by the government investments into the healthcare are going to force patients to seek better quality abroad.
Prosperous European countries with a strong healthcare system comprise of ongoing scientific research, well equipped university clinics and innovative methods of complex diseases treatment; are expected to become host states. Some of the treatment techniques are patented for the use on the territory of one country only.
Germany is an ideal example for the precise study of the foreigners’ treatment practice in Europe. The state hosts a lion’s share of international patients. Top German hospitals have embraced this current situation in the global healthcare sector and offer top health care to international patients.
Essence of healthcare insurance
The health coverage industry is actively developing together with the annual stable population growth and the increased life expectancy from 72,3 years in 2014 up to 73,3 years in 2019. Nonetheless, rapid growth does not mean satisfying the needs of all client groups. Depending on the country of residency, insured person will be able to cover just a check-up as well as pay for the complex surgery. Being a part of the whole global healthcare ecosystem, health insurance gains both profits and negative payoff. Population growth increases the reach and scope of marketing. Meanwhile, the market-ready product delivery leaves much to be desired. The whole world tries hard to match the demand for the trained medical personnel, mainly doctors and nurses. The shortage of skilled stuff is one of the main factors affecting domestic healthcare. Further people refuse to be covered by insurance companies. Patients realise that they are able to pay for the standard medical procedures making 60% of all the insurance cases by themselves. Severe cases that require the participation of the highly-skilled personnel will be either covered partially by the insurance company due to the insufficiency of the coverage amount or opt for some doubtful options in their own country.
Insurance companies in turn increase the competition and the rising costs to customers fuel the trend of “the more expensive, the better”. Hospitals make deals between each other, insurance companies and with the independent groups of doctors thus forming their own healthcare systems of a larger scale and wider coverage of services in order to withstand the growing market pressures. Finally, recipients see the model at the high cost of the “membership card”. Market becomes all more divided into the premium-clients who have access to quality insurance medicine, including abroad services. Standard clients are the other clients and they cannot wait for help from the insurance groups in the event of severe cases. First quarter of 2017 proved the share of premium packages to be only 3.2%, which means that 96.8% of the insured patients still pay for the necessary complex medical procedures by themselves.
Treatment abroad for the uninsured patient
Firstly, the process of treatment itself must be analysed when you have a look at the treatment practice of the foreign patients in a host country, along with the internal policy of its clinics, namely in Germany. Before 2008 patient paid only for the initial cost of treatment and all the recalculations were made after the completion of treatment. Additional cost could be added because of the complications that occurred during treatment or unique features of the patient's body, such as additional medication or the necessary additional days to the total period of postoperative rehabilitation. In reality, patients almost didn’t pay for the extra services thus creating billion-dollar debts of foreign patients to the German healthcare system.
It’s important to note that such a phenomenon existed only in relations between foreign patients and the clinic, since all extra-expenses of German citizens were covered by German insurance.
A solution to this issue became the accrual of additional cost to the preliminary bill on the average amount of 60%. Today, it means all international patients pay 60% of the additional price in the event of extra expenses within the treatment process. This way the hospital insures their financial risks.
The next step to repaying debts will be the government's decision on the official non-return of the additional costs as it was done in Bavaria. All this leads to the almost double increase in the prices of treatment for the patients from other countries and a stalemate for them, when it’s impossible to receive quality treatment in their country of residency and at the same time, medical tourism is unprofitable in view of the aggressive pricing policy of the hosting hospitals.
Decisions that drive the industry
The fundamental shift in the healthcare ecosystem happens mainly because the conflict between different parties as governments, hospitals, insurance companies and clients is gradually ceasing. A so- called peace opens the way for a mutually beneficial model that is comfortable for all the users.
In 2016, over 40 innovative solutions were arranged in Germany as for the global healthcare sector. A model called MHS by German Booking Health GmbH™ company is the most promising one.
MHS (Medical Hospital Service) model provides all the clients who book treatment abroad through the Booking Health GmbH ™ parent company a free compulsive insurance. Such an innovation is based on the association of German hospitals and insurance companies under the auspices of a single brand on the basis of direct contracts and excludes any additional costs for the patient. Insurance covers expenses up to Euro 200, 000 in case of force majeure circumstances and all the payments to the hosting hospital are going to be made from the accounts of the insurance company. Here then, all international patients that buy treatment in Germany through the official partner which is Booking Health GmbH™ will save about 60% of their costs. Innovation was achieved thanks to the understanding of all party interests and developing a joint solution that can change the current situation.
“Hospitals were only interested in providing healthcare service and insurance of their risks. Instead, they were forced to do non-profitable administrative work creating special international departments and experiencing loses while processing the applications from foreign patients. But, only 2-3% of applicants ended up actually coming to the hospital. This is a huge job if we will consider the fact that Germany provides more 20 million patients with healthcare services annually.
We took over the administrative work. Booking Health GmbH™ is now receives and processes all the incoming international applications so the hospitals can focus their resources on the medical personnel and new equipment.
Result of such cooperation is not only a price advantageous for the patient, which is 60-70% lower, but also teems of inpatient stay. Before, the patients had to wait for almost 3 weeks to get the answer form the hospital. Today, Booking Health GmbH™ provides its clients with the official information on the time of check-in, costs, and treatment options within 24 hours”.
Elena Sergeeva, SEO of Booking Health GmbH
Strategy of the decisions that took into account the needs of participants in a single ecosystem led to the success of the MHS model. Each party has the opportunity to develop and thereby move the entire national health care system. The insurance sector has mastered a new type of monetization; clinics have got advantageous working conditions, patients have received the form of fixed prices and service.
Germany’s model and the existing solutions of its leading companies in the area of international healthcare precisely demonstrate a possibility of the fundamental changes in the current system thanks to the innovative approaches within the global context. The innovations go beyond the frames of the separate groups of interests and even the whole state. The problem of qualitative healthcare services accessibility in the current conditions of globalization and population growth ceases to be an internal issue of individual countries and requires active action from the international community. A single global solution has to be made based on the example of the German MHS model.
About Booking Health:
Booking Health is an international online platform, which specialises in booking medical services. Modern technical innovations have allowed Booking Health to elevate the quality of medical tourism to a high level. The portal offers its services in three leading areas: diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation. All these three areas include list of medical programs allowing patients to choose the most preferable option and duration of their treatment. Germany, Switzerland, and Austria are leading countries, where patients can book the most advanced and professional medical program. Patients also have the opportunity to compare various programs and recommendations. Finally, you have your own choice of booking online the appropriate health or medical program.
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