NYT columnist: Oklahoma medical facility’s price transparency ‘probably just the beginning’
August 7, 2013
“The Surgery Center of Oklahoma is an ambulatory surgical center in Oklahoma City owned by its roughly 40 surgeons and anesthesiologists,” Tina Rosenberg wrote in a New York Times commentary last week. “What makes it different from every other such facility in America is this: If you need an anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, you will know beforehand — because it’s on their Web site — that it costs $6,990 if you self-pay in advance. If you need a tonsillectomy, that’s $3,600. Repair of a simple closed nasal fracture: $1,900. These prices are all-inclusive.
Keith Smith, the co-founder of the center, said that it had been posting prices for the last 4 of its 16 years. He knew something was happening, he said, when people started coming from Canada. “They could pay $3,740 for arthroscopic surgery of the knee and not have to wait for three years,” he said. Then he began getting patients from elsewhere in the United States and began to find out — “I get 8 or 10 e-mails a week” — that he was having an effect on prices far away. “Patients are holding plane tickets to Oklahoma City and printing out our prices, and leveraging better deals in their local markets.” …
The Surgery Center of Oklahoma is probably just the beginning. “You’re looking at one example of something that’s going to become really, really important,” said John C. Goodman, a highly influential conservative health policy analyst. “Once one hospital in a city starts doing it, everyone has to do it.”