Monday, October 13, 2008

Min-Sheng Begins New Alliance with BCBSC and Companion Global Healthcare

American insurance companies are increasingly looking to medical tourism as a means of reducing costs, especially in the face of recent economic malaise। America's largest health insurance organization, the Blue Cross Blue Shield South Carolina, and its subsidiary, Companion Global Healthcare, were recently in Taoyuan to sign a contract with Min-Sheng General Hospital that is expected to bring many Americans to Taiwan for medical services.
Unlike Taiwan, the United States doesn't have universal health care coverage. There are 39 independent health insurance companies nation-wide. The Blue Cross Blue Shield South Carolina is one of the largest health insurance organizations in the U.S. with one-third of the population as its members and 90% of the hospitals belonging to its network.
MissionCare's CEO, Dr। Fred Yang, stated that Min-Sheng has already signed contracts with seven different U.S. health insurance companies in 2008 and expects to sign with two more before year's end. He also believes that these insurance companies were willing to cooperate with Min-Sheng because the hospital was the first in Taiwan to receive Joint Commission International accreditation. Dr. Yang did admit, however, that at present patient volume from the U.S. is minimal. Nevertheless, he is confident that the new alliance with BCBSC could bring a flood of patients in the coming year.
MissionCare's Chief Quality Officer Connie Ma said that BCBSC established Companion Global Healthcare last year in order to provide its clients with a new product. She went on to say that Companion Global Healthcare arranges for patients to travel overseas, provides round trip tickets, and even provides $100 petty cash to every patient.
Ms। Ma also stated that medical costs have surged in the U.S. this year while at the same time medical resources are lacking and the wait time of patients is getting longer and longer, which has prompted health insurance companies to begin sending patients overseas for costly medical procedures.
Companion Global Healthcare has currently signed contracts with hospitals in 11 different nations. The hospitals in Asia are located in Thailand, Singapore and India. Min-Sheng has become the first hospital in Taiwan to be included in its network.
The secretary general of Taiwan Nongovernmental Hospital & Clinic Association, Ming-Yan Wu, pointed out that every American state places several restrictions on insurance companies with regard to overseas medical treatment। But, with the spread of the financial turmoil, local insurance companies hope that many of the restrictions will be lifted. Mr. Wu believes that market for American medical tourists will mature by 2010.
CEO Dr. Fred Yang told reporters that the Min-Sheng Health Care Group began the internationalization process six years ago and that within the year they will have signed contracts with nine different insurance companies. He added that shares of MissionCare's pharmaceutical company, Sheng-Hong, will be sold over the counter next year bringing them one step closer to becoming the largest health care group in the greater China area.
Min-Sheng Hospital was founded by Dr। Min-Sheng Yang in 1975. After his son, current CEO Dr. Fred Yang, joined the organization, it became more and more industrialized and developed. By 1997, the Min-Sheng Healthcare Group had grown to 11 hospitals and clinics including the original hospital.
CEO Yang stated that Min-Sheng General Hospital made three important moves in 1997. First, it signed the buy back lease deal with ING. Second, it obtained Joint Commission International Accreditation and signed an agreement with medical travel facilitator GlobalChoice. Third, they signed an agreement with UnitedHealth International.
Finally, CEO Yang stressed the need to attract the international community to come to Taiwan for medical treatment। Min-Sheng General specializes in cardiovascular, orthopedic, and minimally invasive surgeries and although none of these is an emergency procedure, Europeans and Americans will find that the cost of these procedures in Taiwan is typically 30% of the cost in Western countries

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