US hospitals and insurance companies have had a monopoly over our national health status … so much so that 46 million Americans do not have health insurance.
Although segment statistics are difficult to find, a large percentage of the uninsured are also Boomers who have experienced job losses at unprecedented rates over the last few years. Many do not have health insurance because they work for small companies unable to afford health insurance for employees.
According to the National Coalition on Health Care, lack of health insurance rapidly deteriorates the health of the uninsured because of less preventive care. Physicians first discover diseases at more advanced stages. The uninsured receive less prophylactic and therapeutic care and have more aggressive mortality rates than the insured.
US hospitals charge extraordinary sums for both elective and life-saving surgeries. Concomitantly, insurance companies have forcefully increased the cost of premiums, thus crowding many out of the system and leaving them vulnerable to personal financial devastation should chronic and life-threatening diseases come to visit.
The day of reckoning is at hand. Boomers are pioneering a new form of tourism that will change the balance of power back to consumers and away from the corporate giants that have created a disgraceful healthcare crisis.
It’s called medical tourism, and it promises something most hospitals and domestic insurance companies have not quite grasped. It guarantees global medical competition.
According to TIME magazine, Wayne Steinard, 59, had heart disease. Too rich for Medicaid and too poor for health insurance, he didn’t have $60,000 for an arterial stent. PlanetHospital, a new Malibu, California, medical-tourism agency sent him to India and an accredited hospital there. It turned out that significant arterial blockage demanded an even more aggressive and costly heart bypass operation. Yet the total cost for this operation was $6,650 or about 1/15th the cost for the same procedure in a US hospital.
Four years ago, when writing the first edition of Marketing to Leading-Edge Baby Boomers, I predicted that Boomers would seek medical care solutions overseas in countries willing to charge reasonable fees for services. I did not then have a specific case study that would substantiate this prediction, but nevertheless I felt confident that Boomers will find a way around the monolithic and monopolistic U.S. healthcare juggernaut. They will not be victims for long.
Boomers, quite simply, have transformed every life stage they’ve passed through, and they will not be deterred by a broken domestic healthcare system. Their money and their numbers will create new industries once again and, this time around, they will address the vital necessity of affordable hospitalization and the insurance to pay for aggressive medical care.
US hospitals and insurance companies have been put on notice. If industry leaders don’t begin right now to fix the broken healthcare delivery system, then America’s Boomers will break these companies. Instead of paying spurious fees, due largely to inefficiency and lack of competition, Boomers will create, popularize and then refine new healthcare paradigms.
This includes cutting-edge medical vacations in far-off lands, guided and administered by entirely new medical tourism agencies. This includes affordable insurance to pay for services, perhaps offered by global insurance companies based overseas.
Furthermore, if established companies involved in US healthcare delivery don’t begin to rebuild their brands and foster a long-term relationship with the Boomer segment by offering value, this quirky generation will have no hesitation but simply to elevate and honor new brands that barely exist today.
PlanetHospital, for example.