Superior adopts medical travel for orthopedics

The plan would incentivize travel to reduce the cost of orthopedic surgeries for city employees.

Government Center in Superior
Government Center, Superior, Wisconsin. (Jed Carlson /
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Superior’s Finance Committee approved medical travel as part of the city’s health insurance plan for employees.

The panel approved amending the city’s contract with HealthPartners to take advantage of high value networks to reduce the cost of orthopedic procedures. Under the proposal, employees would be able to travel outside the Twin Ports for orthopedic care, at a reduced cost against the city’s self-funded health insurance. Employees would be reimbursed for travel expenses up to $1,000 and receive $500 in their health savings account as an incentive to get care through providers located in the Twin Cities area.

The Health Insurance Committee recommended the change for orthopedic surgeries because the savings to the city would exceed the cost of the incentives.

Finance Director Ashley Puetz said she, and councilors Ruth Ludwig and Jack Sweeney talked to a couple of companies that had implemented medical travel as part of their health insurance plans and were pleased with the outcome.

Medical travel would only be authorized and incentivized for orthopedic surgeries such as arthroscopic shoulder and knee surgeries, back, carpal tunnel or rotator cuff surgeries, or knee or hip replacements.


“You only get the benefits if you use a high value network,” Puetz said. “There’s options that would save the city money, and if you pick one of those options, we’ll pay you for the trip.”

Putz said the savings to the city would be much greater than the cost of the incentives.

“HealthPartners has defined the providers,” Sweeney said.

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