Hospitals Treating Wealthy Foreigners To Assure Cash Flows

International patients spending $3 billion a year on care in the United States are helping fund a gap for hospitals waiting with bated breath to see how health care reform will affect them, Marketplace reports.

The trend is especially pronounced in places like Miami, where financially struggling Jackson Memorial hospital is looking for wealthy patients to make up for a lack in funding. "Jackson Memorial has teamed up with other local hospitals to market Miami as a health-care destination. The institutions have ponied up $12,500 each for an initial campaign. And they launched a Web site, MiamiHealthCare.org."

"But some may see an imbalance when struggling Americans get basic medical treatment only because rich foreigners subsidize it. For now, hospitals continue to tempt those flush international patients with lush 'concierge' services.

Jackson Memorial opened its wood-paneled international welcome center two years ago. The staff arranges airport pickup, discounted hotel stays, and appointments with specialists." Marketplace reports that Baptist, another Miami-area hospital, treated more foreign patients last year than any other in the region -- 12,000 from 100 countries (Grech, 7/30).

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