Lowe's sends heart patient employees to clevelandThe good news for Lowe's employees with heart problems is that they are going to receive world-class care. The bad news is, that care will be in the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center in Cleveland, Ohio, unless they want to forgo the juicy incentives the company will offer them to take part in the newly negotiated arrangement.

The company recently inked a three-year deal with the hospital giant to provide heart surgery for Lowe's 100,000–plus employees. While the arrangement does not mandate that employees travel to Cleveland for their operations, the company will offer incentives to drive business that way.

These incentives include free travel and lodging for the patient and his/her loved one, waiving of the $500 deductible and other costs. (If they really want to promote the program, they should offer a pair of courtside tickets to a Cavaliers game, while LeBron James is still in Cleveland.)

Lowe's compared five nationally-respected hospitals before choosing Cleveland Clinic. The Clinic is not only noted for the quality of its care, but is a leader in controlling costs, including paying its doctors a flat salary. According to Medical Tourism Magazine, the clinic did 4,128 heart surgeries in 2009.

While some companies have taken tentative steps into the international hospital medical tourism to reduce employee medical costs, this could be precedent-setting in medical tourism within the U.S.

And the weather in Cleveland doesn't ALWAYS suck.

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