Why United Airlines Wants Employees to Get Knee and Hip Replacements

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The cost of medical care isn’t the same price in every city. United Airlines is incentivizing employees to travel to a Chicago-based medical center in order to receive cheaper hip and knee procedures.


The medical center is located at Rush University.  So what’s in it for employees? Well, the airline will pay for all the costs related to the surgery assuming the employee has met their yearly deductible.

Here are more details about the program, courtesy of The Chicago Tribune.

“There are no copays or coinsurance, which is the share of medical costs a policyholder is responsible for after meeting the deductible. United also pays for the employee and a companion to travel for the surgery, and recommends two guest houses that are on or near the Rush campus. Hip and knee replacements are expensive procedures that can cost as much $33,000, and by taking advantage of the program that rolled out earlier this year, patients could save thousands of dollars, the company said.

But the perk is not just about saving employees money. United hopes that by partnering with a hospital with a track record of proven orthopedic care, workers will receive better care and have fewer complications afterward. If the surgery goes well, employees can return to work faster and save the company money by eliminating readmissions to the hospital.”

Bottom Line

This is a prime example of an airline trying to do more to help its employees. This is especially important given the rising healthcare costs over the past several years.

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  1. This is becoming a common practice for large employers. It’s a combination of centers of excellence and medical tourism and is a win-win deal. The employee gets care from a hospital with high quality outcomes along with some financial incentives and the employer gets competitive pricing.

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