Surgery Center of Oklahoma — a good idea at the right time

By Kelly Carson | Watchdog.org

Years ago, in another newsroom, I was interviewing a school board candidate whose first name was Forty. I had to ask.

“That’s how much Daddy paid for me,” he said, referring to the amount of money his father paid the hospital and doctor following his birth.

That made sense.

Oklahoma County has settled on something similar. In a February deal, the Oklahoma County Budget Board announced it would give public employees the option of a single health-care provider working under the county’s self-funded health-insurance program. That provider, the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, charges the county what it actually costs to perform health services and foregoes all the insurance gobbledygook that drives up the cost of health care.

Watchdog.org and other media have reported previously about the Surgery Center and the fact that it operates at one-sixth to one-tenth the cost of major hospitals because of its “cash-only” business model.

SURGERIES AND SAVINGS: The Surgery Center of Oklahoma has reached an agreement with Oklahoma County that, ultimately, will save thousands of taxpayer dollars.

After one month, the agreement seems to be working.

“We added this as an optional benefit for covered employees, retirees and eligible dependents on our self-insured health plan, and waived any out-of-pocket costs if they choose to have their surgery at the Surgery Center,” said Jon Wilkerson, the county’s director of human resources, benefits and payroll.

Ten surgeries have been scheduled at a cost of $58,565. Had those surgeries been performed anywhere else, the cost to county taxpayers would have been well north of $200,000.

“These 10 employees would also (have) had to pay out-of-pocket costs averaging $3,000 each,” Wilkerson said. “We have received very positive feedback from employees regarding the quality of care and the cost.

“These savings will directly impact our self-funded health plan and ultimately the taxpayers of Oklahoma County,” he said. “Quality care at a transparent price.”

In these days of spiraling health-care costs, Obamacare and a struggling economy, it’s refreshing to see a government entity work with the private sector, in this case the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, to save taxpayers money.

Contact Kelly Carson at kcarson@watchdog.org

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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