While Obamacare attempts to take control of the healthcare industry, there are doctors around the country who are bucking the trend and offering their own free market solutions to healthcare socialism. What ends up happening is that healthcare costs are driven down dramatically, and the patient and insurance company pay far less than if these patients had gone to a traditional hospital.
The Surgery Center of Oklahoma was started about 16 years ago by a couple of disillusioned doctors fed up with how hospitals treated their patients. “What we’ve discovered is health care really doesn’t cost that much,” Dr. Smith, one of the co-founders, said. “What people are being charged for is another matter altogether.” Reason pointed out last year some of the main reasons healthcare is so expensive these days, using Integris Health as an example. Integris is Oklahoma’s largest healthcare provider:
“[Co-founder and Doctor] Sigmon says he can perform twice as many surgeries in a single day at the Surgery Center [of Oklahoma] than at Integris. At the latter institution, he spends half his time waiting around while the staff struggles with the basic logistics of moving patients from preoperative care into the operating room. When the patient arrives, Sigmon will sometimes wait even longer for the equipment he needs. Except for the clerical staff, every employee at the Surgery Center is directly involved in patient care. For example, both human resources and building maintenance are the responsibility of the head nurse. ‘One reason our prices are so low,’ says Smith, ‘is that we don’t have administrators running around in their four or five thousand dollar suits.’ In 2010, the top 18 administrative employees at Integris Health received an average of $413,000 in compensation, according to the not-for-profit’s 990 tax form. There are no administrative employees at the Surgery Center.”
The Surgery Center of Oklahoma is so focused on offering patients a truly free market approach to healthcare that their charges are sometimes as little as 1/8 the cost of what other hospitals in the area charge.
The local news channel KFOR was able to obtain some hospital bills from three large healthcare providers in the state and compare them with the Surgery Center:
- Mercy Hospital charged $16,244 for a breast biopsy; the procedure will cost $3,500 at Surgery Center of Oklahoma.
- OU Medical Center billed $20,456 for the open repair of a fracture; the procedure will cost $4,855 at Surgery Center of Oklahoma.
- OU Medical Center billed $21,556 for a gall bladder removal surgery; the procedure will cost $5,865 at Surgery Center of Oklahoma.
- OU Medical Center billed $23,934 for an ankle arthroscopy; the procedure will cost $3,740 at Surgery Center of Oklahoma.
- Integris Baptist billed $37,174 for a hysterectomy; the surgery costs $8,000 at Surgery Center of Oklahoma.
You can view their full price menu on their website here.
The appeal of this surgery center is even more apparent when dealing with a self-funded employer; that is, a company that pays for its employees’ healthcare needs out of its own revenues. For example, this patient didn’t even end up paying a dime for her procedure:
“June Wietzikoski is a typical patient benefiting from this alternative health care market. She works as a loan officer for a community bank in Groesbeck, Texas, which is a client of the Kempton Group. She had carpal tunnel release procedure done at the Surgery Center for the all-inclusive price of $2,775, which was covered by her employer. Had she gone to a traditional hospital run by Integris the discounted bill would have come to about $7,452 and she would have been personally responsible for the first $5,299, since she hadn’t met her deductible.”
This is what happens when the free market is allowed to take its course. Prices are forced down, and quality greatly improves.