How Medical Repatriation Can Save American Health Care Costs

Immigrants often come to the US to receive medical treatment for serious illness and injury that they can’t get back in their home country. Others get sick while here in the US and need affordable health care to figure out how to treat their illness. Medical repatriation can be the financial saving grace for immigrants, but it can also save costs for US hospitals as well. 

 

Understanding What Medical Repatriation Is

Medical repatriation is a term that refers to an immigrant being transported back to their home country to receive medical treatment for an illness or injury instead of being treated in the US. For instance, a person may be sent for medical care in Mexico if they came from there to live in the US. 

This method differs from medical evacuation, which is the process of taking someone to a medical facility for emergency care. While it does mean moving them from their current location to said facility, they may not be returned to their home country to receive care. 

Medical repatriation requires air travel and the patient is transported back with a medical team on the flight. This most often happens when the person has suffered a critical illness or injury that requires extensive treatment and care. 

 

How Does Medical Repatriation Reduce Costs for Hospitals?

If an immigrant is injured or becomes ill and must go to a nearby hospital, they may not find a medical facility that accepts their health insurance. This means the hospital must bear the cost of treating someone who may or may not be able to afford the care without that insurance coverage. Even if the immigrant decides to stay in a US hospital to receive treatment, there’s no guaranteed time period in which the hospital will be repaid for the cost they had to cover to keep that patient there.

In many cases, medical repatriation is covered by the person’s health insurance. It will pay for the costs to transport that person back to their home country. It also pays for the cost of the flight medical team to provide care until the person is in a covered facility. 

Even though it’s expensive to transport a patient back to their home country for medical care, it’s often less costly than keeping them in a facility in the US where no cost is covered. The average patient in the US may also have to be sent to a long-term care facility to continue recovery, which is also not covered by insurance, adding more to an already substantial medical bill.

Medical repatriation allows immigrants to go home and receive medical care from a reputable facility. They are often surrounded by people they know and can concentrate on getting well in a place that is familiar. Contrary to what some may believe, the patients go to medical clinics and hospitals in their home country that have the ability and equipment to provide quality care. 

This process allows hospitals to limit expenses for which they cannot be reimbursed while ensuring the patient receives the proper treatment for their condition.

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