| July 9, 2013

Oklahoma becoming national leader in healthcare price transparency

In a recent hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Congressman James Lankford (R-Okla.) lauded the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, a multispecialty facility in Oklahoma City which posts its prices online, as a place where “competition has driven up quality and driven down price.”

The Surgery Center is not alone. As Ali Meyer reported this week on KFOR-TV, the NBC affiliate in Oklahoma City (click here to watch), several other medical facilities in Oklahoma City have embraced price transparency. Among them: McBride Orthopedic Hospital, Oklahoma Heart Hospital, Digestive Disease Center, Cancer Specialists of Oklahoma, Breast Imaging of Oklahoma, and Comprehensive Diagnostic Imaging. Several facilities are posting their prices on the website of The Kempton Group, a third-party administrator of self-funded employee-benefit plans. As a result, Oklahoma City is becoming somewhat of a medical tourist destination, with patients coming from as far away as Canada and California.

It’s encouraging to see Oklahoma become a leader in healthcare honesty and transparency. Policymakers and chambers of commerce should take every opportunity to recruit not only patients but businesses that want affordable health care for their employees.

Hospitals make the case that they have to charge higher prices because they must treat all patients and thus shift costs. Dr. Keith Smith of the Surgery Center is not persuaded. In any case, it’s a debate that has come to Oklahoma – and not a moment too soon.

At a time when President Obama has hired a hospital lobbyist in an attempt to save Obamacare – and hospital lobbyists in Oklahoma are attempting to save Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion – a countervailing force is picking up steam: freedom. And as the Canadians who come to Oklahoma City for medical care can tell you, freedom works.

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