A free market alternative for public employees started in Oklahoma City has the potential to save taxpayers billions of dollars nationwide and revolutionize the way Americans pay for their health care, says Watchdog.org.
Devon Herrick, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, told Oklahoma Watchdog.org that the agreement for the Surgery Center of Oklahoma to provide lower cost medical procedures to Oklahoma county employees is innovative and potentially revolutionary.
"The bottom line is taxpayers (and employers) desire to get value for what it spends on health benefits," Herrick says. "The best way to do that is to align the incentives of workers and taxpayers (and employers). Consumers will seek out these bargains if they are given the appropriate incentives and the tools to do so."
- The Surgery Center drew national attention two years ago when it became the first hospital group in the country to set and disclose to patients the cost of each of its medical procedures.
- Prices for Surgery Center procedures are generally a fraction of those of competing hospitals that bill through traditional health insurance.
- Watchdog.org recently calculated the cost of 10 surgeries through late March at the Surgery Center at a total of $58,565. Comparable cost at other hospitals for those 10 procedures would have been over $200,000.
Should hospitals across the country offer competitive pricing to local, county and state employees with health care coverage underwritten by taxpayers, the cost savings could be in the billions of dollars.
Traditionally, health plans allowed enrollees to go anywhere for care with little regard for costs, Herrick says. By contrast, the Surgery Center offers a cost incentive alternative for quality care.
"If more employers would reward enrollees for choosing a place like the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, within a short while other hospitals and providers would begin to match the prices," according to Herrick.
Source: Patrick B. McGuigan, "Innovative, Unique, Even Revolutionary: Surgery Center of Oklahoma," Watchdog.org, April 11, 2014.
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