Price Transparency Models that work in ASCs BY ROBERT KURTZ C

hris Markford, administrator at the Orthopaedic Surgery Center

of Clearwater (OSCC) in Clearwater, Florida, says he understands the frus- tration patients often experience when they receive care without knowing how much it will cost them. He experi- enced similar frustration when he and his wife were informed that their son would be born with a cleft palate. This prompted their insurance provider to stop treating the pregnancy as routine and refuse to cover a large percentage of the costs. “Everything was moved over to our

deductible portion,” he recalls. “We had to become concerned with the cost of anything we did through the preg- nancy process because we were taking on the total cost ourselves.”

When Markford joined OSCC, he set out to reduce the frustration he


believed some the ASC’s patients expe- rienced when undergoing procedures. “I was in a position to do something that could benefit our patients,” he says. “I believe in the free market, and that the consumer should have full under- standing of their options and the costs of those options, whenever possible.” After reading about the Surgery Center of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which has posted cash prices for procedures on its web site for several years, he found a solu- tion. “I did not see a reason why we could not do something similar here in Clearwater.”

Under this model, Markford

wanted his ASC to publish a cash price for many of its procedures. That fig- ure would cover all of the fees for the surgeon, anesthesiologist and facil- ity, including the initial consultation.

Patients who chose to pay cash for their procedure would pay the quoted figure, nothing more.

Launching the Program Markford

says he spoke with the

OSCC’s board of directors in January 2014 and explained the model. They quickly bought in. “They saw it as an opportunity to tap into markets that were not necessarily accessible before and provide great care to the patients in these markets. My main goal was to offer the best product at the best possi- ble price.”

Michael Piazza, MD, an orthope-

dic surgeon and one of the owners of OSCC, was a strong supporter of the program. “We saw price transparency as a way to do an upright thing for our patients and give them a more effec- tive mechanism for shopping for their health care.” After receiving approval from the board to move ahead with posting the cash prices for the ASC’s procedures,

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