By directly connecting its employees to medical facilities that share prices upfront on low-cost, all-inclusive procedures — from MRIs and sleep studies to surgery and oncology — BancFirst and Oklahoma County saved $1 million and $2.5 million on their respective health plans last year.
Similarly, the self-funded employers of Oklahoma City-based Kempton Group — for which it handles health insurance claims — have saved a combined $14 million since 2012 by using The Surgery Center of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Heart Hospital and other facilities that offer transparent pricing. Meanwhile, the state of Oklahoma, by tapping the same free-market initiatives, stands to save $200 million over the next year.
Kempton CEO Jay Kempton and Keith Smith, one of 40 physician owners of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, shared the success stories with 110 agents and brokers who attended an Oklahoma City Association of Health Underwriters symposium Thursday at Quail Creek Country Club.
The pair, who founded the Free Market Medical Association three years ago, are strong advocates for price transparency and competition among medical providers and facilities to lower rising health care costs for consumers.
“We think every American should understand that a decent price for a shoulder MRI is $500 versus $4,000,” Kempton said. Volume discounts obstruct and distort the free market and the understanding of the true cost of care, he said. “It should be the same cash price to any willing buyer. Price is not a product; care is.”
Kempton told of how a durable medical equipment supplier quoted a $4,195 discounted price on a $6,900 oxygen concentrator, but quickly matched a $2,995 price that Kempton found in a Google search.