Friday, December 6, 2013

What happens when you post medical prices online?

You attract Canadians,

Smith knew that putting his prices online had been a great idea when Canadians began flying down to the SCO for treatment: “The first thing that happened once we started posting our prices online was the Canadians started showing up. They could pay $3,200 from Vancouver for a hernia operation to step out of line.” The line Smith refers to is Canada’s single-payer, government-run healthcare system, which boasts some of the longest wait times for surgical care in the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the rich-country club. Smith contracts with a Canadian health broker specializing in finding wait-listed Canadians access to care and describes the high number of Canadians he sees as “fascinating because that’s the healthcare system that everybody in this town thinks we need.”

 and Americans with high-deductible plans:

Smith has also had success in appealing to people with high deductibles and to mid-sized companies in Oklahoma and North Texas. He has directly courted companies that feel that they are overpaying for their HMOs, asking CEOs, “Why would you be OK with paying $14,000 for a tonsillectomy across town for one of your employee’s children when we’ll do it for $2,900?” In response, many companies have moved their health plans to the SCO, offering to eliminate employee copayments for treatment on the condition that surgeries are performed at the SCO. As a result, one medium-sized bank in the region was able to drop its premiums by 10 percent. Smith’s corporate accounts have significantly improved his profitability: “In the last year, as a result of our outreach to CEOs of big companies, we are 40 percent busier than we were a year ago, and it’s primarily due to us posting these prices.”
HT:  Blake


  1. My company switched from traditional insurance to a Health Savings Plan a few years ago. I funded an account, and they essentially matched what I put in. I noticed that my visits to the doctor have decreased (my decision) and I now have a nice little bank account that I can use to pay for healthcare items I really need. Plus, it decreased the cost for my employer.

  2. Can the U.S. and Canada create a market and trade? For some in Canada, health care is a low-valued use because of the waiting cost. By opening up health service in the U.S. for Canadians that would rather pay than wait, Smith moved the asset to a higher-value use. Conversely, can the U.S. send one American who cannot afford health care to Canada for every Canadian that comes to the U.S. for a health care purchase?

  3. there is a similar article here which is interesting: "Also fueling the trend is a little-known clause tucked into the health-care law that allows direct primary-care to count as ACA-compliant insurance, as long as it is bundled with a “wraparound” catastrophic medical policy to cover emergencies"

  4. My last boss was Canadian, and we discussed healthcare at length because of the introduction of Obamacare. Apparently it's not just surgical waiting times that are extremely long in Canada. He told me that anything from an MRI to getting test results read takes much longer, so Canadians could be a great segment for other types of healthcare providers to target.

  5. They have the same issue in Scotland with the NHS. Plus its nearly impossible to get a prescription.

  6. If a procedure is not available in Canada, their government often pays for care in the USA - factor that. A hernia is not often a life threatening emergency. MRI's are not often the best cost-effective diagnostic tools. Canadians live longer, healthier lives.