You may have heard about the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, which posts its prices online. One of the two founders was a guest at our wedding, so I’ve known about them for a while, but over the past couple years their story has begun to spread.
What they’re doing is unusual in the upside-down health-care market in the U.S. Here, “insurance,” the product of government intervention during World War II, makes people feel immune to cost. So there’s no need to post prices. The suckers just walk in and get the procedure, and someone else picks up the tab.
But not everyone has insurance, so at some level there is concern for cost. And this is what makes the Surgery Center so interesting.
A recent story begins:
An Oklahoma City surgery center is offering a new kind of price transparency, posting guaranteed all-inclusive surgery prices online. The move is revolutionizing medical billing in Oklahoma and around the world.
Dr. Keith Smith and Dr. Steven Lantier launched Surgery Center of Oklahoma 15 years ago, founded on the simple principle of price honesty.
“What we’ve discovered is health care really doesn’t cost that much,” Dr. Smith said. “What people are being charged for is another matter altogether.”
Surgery Center of Oklahoma started posting their prices online about four years ago.
The prices are all-inclusive quotes and they are guaranteed.
“When we first started we thought we were about half the price of the hospitals,” Dr. Lantier remembers. “Then we found out we’re less than half price. Then we find out we’re a sixth to an eighth of what their prices are. I can’t believe the average person can afford health care at these prices.”
Their goal was to start a price war and they did.
Their first out-of-town patients came from Canada; soon everyday Americans caught on.
Matthew Gang, 22, tore his patella tendon, dislocating his knee-cap playing basketball earlier this year.
Gang is from California and he is uninsured.
Surgery in his home-state was going to be about $30,000.
The posted price at Surgery Center of Oklahoma was $5,700, one-fifth the price.
Matthew and his father Tom Gang flew from California to Oklahoma for surgery.
“It was well worth it,” Tom Gang said. “I need a rotator cuff surgery right now. I’m thinking about flying out there and having my surgery because it was such a positive experience for us.”