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Surgery Center of Oklahoma Posts its Prices for Patients

Thursday, September 3, 2009

By Jennifer Pierce, NEWS 9 OKLAHOMA CITY -- The economy and health care reform is spurring a unique market in Oklahoma. A metro surgery clinic is leading the way in medical tourism.

Many people are traveling long distances to see local doctors.

The surgery center of Oklahoma is now doing what a lot of consumer-driven businesses do; posting their prices so the shopper knows exactly what they will pay.

"People are right to be angry at the high cost of healthcare," Co-founder of the surgery center of Oklahoma, Keith Smith said.

The founders of the surgery center of Oklahoma say they may have the solution.

A majority of the patients Keith Smith and Steve Lantier treat are uninsured or have high deductibles and want the best price, but can't get the true cost of surgery at hospitals.

"People in medicine traditionally haven't shown those prices," Smith said.

That's why doctors are offering what they call transparency in pricing. Potential patients get the upfront cost of a procedure online.

"We are including, which I'm pretty sure no one in the country has done, the facility fee, the surgeon and anesthesiologist's fee is all rolled into one," Lantier said.

The online pricing guide is drawing medical tourists, people from other states and countries, like Canada.

"The Canadians who are in waiting lines to get their surgeries are shoppers and they are looking," Smith said.

And instead of a government run health care system Keith believes allowing consumers to shop around is a better approach to health care reform. But don't expect medical facilities to catch on too quickly.

"I think there will be a lot of resistance to put prices online cause competition lowers prices and no one wants to compete if they don't have to," Smith said.

Smith says the other benefit to medical tourism is how it helps the local economy. When patients come from out of state or out of the country they usually stay for a week or longer. They typically stay in hotels and eat and shop locally.

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