Oklahoma hospital posts surgery prices online

Posted By Kristen Butler, UPI.com  |  July 16, 2013 at 2:19 PM
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Dr. Keith Smith and Dr. Steven Lantier of Surgery Center of Oklahoma began posting prices online four years ago, and now other facilities are aiming to offer price transparency.

"What we've discovered is that healthcare really doesn't cost that much," Smith said. "What people are being charged for is another matter altogether."

Surgery prices are all-inclusive and are guaranteed from the start.

A $3,500 breast biopsy at Surgery Center of Oklahoma can run up to $16,244 at Mercy Hospital, also in Oklahoma City. A $5,865 gall bladder removal would run $21,566 at the Oklahoma University Medical Center.

Federal Medicare regulation would not allow for their online price menu, so although Surgery Center of Oklahoma does accept private insurance, it does not accept Medicare or Medicaid.

Because of this, critics say they are only treating the healthiest, wealthiest patients. But they say the added transparency is making healthcare more affordable.

"The first thing that happened is, Canadians showed up," Smith said, adding that a lot of patients just travel across the state line from Texas. "A hysterectomy here is $8,000 all-inclusive, including staying the night in the facility and the patient having an epidural so they don’t hurt. That could easily run $40- or $50,000 at one of the big health systems there in Texas."

"When we first started we thought we were about half the price of the hospitals," Lantier said. "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."

But other facilities in the state feel compelled to join the bidding war, and have skirted federal regulations by posting their prices on the website of The Kempton Group, a third-party administrator for self-funded health insurance plans.

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