Are you a healer, a mover, an innovator? Do you really want to reform healthcare and provide real care to real patients? Or are you a brainless pawn, guilted and exploited, enabling a Government-Lobbyist-Insurance Company-Hospital (GLICH) syndicate to lie, cheat, and steal from our patients and profession? Are you the cure, or are you cancer?
My quest for answers and solutions led me to the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, where I had the great privilege of meeting modern day heroes, G. Keith Smith, MD and Steven Lantier, MD. These highly educated, brilliant physician colleagues have mixed maximal amounts of hard work, front-line experience, and common sense with free-market principles, ethos, and courage to develop a model for true cost-saving, patient-centered medical care.
Dr. Keith Smith, Medical Director at the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, says their prices are anywhere from a sixth to a tenth of what a patient would typically pay at a so-called ‘not-for-profit’ hospital. The reason the prices are so low is that the surgery center is completely physician owned. Because the center deals directly with patients and physicians, without the greedy tentacles of third party intervention, money is spent on care for patients in lieu of cash for politicians, lobbyists, insurance executives, hospital administrators, and bureaucratic waste. Prices are transparent and posted on the center’s website. Patients can call and speak to physicians directly. The facility is beautiful, state-of-the-art, and efficient. Outcomes are superb and complication rates are extraordinarily low. Privacy and dignity are inviolable. Everyone is smiling and happy.
Recently, employees of Oklahoma County were given the option of having their surgery at the Surgery Center of Oklahoma. Within three weeks, the county saved $140,000. In two months, the county has saved $400,000, for a potential savings of $2.4M annually. Policy analysts believe that if the state of Oklahoma would offer state employees access to such a center, state taxpayers could see savings of up to $20 million dollars a year. The model works.
Ironically and despicably, lobbyists spend billions of dollars a year influencing politicians to perpetuate the “GLICH” scam, so lawmakers in both parties roadblock even such impressive free market models. Why? Hospitals and insurance companies profit immensely on the backs of patients, doctors, and employers by artificially increasing hospital prices (the bill) relative to insurance “allowables” (the payment), so that hospitals can receive big money government subsidies for fabricated losses attributed to “uncompensated care”, and so that insurance companies can receive big money kickbacks from employers for phantom savings they “brokered” for employers. Thus far, state employees have not been granted access to the Surgery Center of OK and must seek care at hospitals whose prices are 0% transparent and 80% to 90% higher. Big government is literally colluding to deny patients access to excellent care at massive savings. Billions of tax dollars are squandered laundering money and power to politicians, insurance companies, and hospitals under the guise of providing care for patients. The “GLICH” syndicate deals our services like drugs. Without our services, the deal’s off.
Will physicians act boldly in step with Doctors Smith and Lantier, two pillars of medicine, or will we passively sanction the victimization and demise of American medicine at the hand of Government colluders, the pillagers of medicine? What is it you really want? What will you really do to get it?