Medical Tourism

By all accounts, America has some of the best health care in the world. But it’s also one of the most expensive. Getting affordable treatment isn’t easy. Lisa Fletcher reports on a medical practice in Oklahoma that’s trying out something new.

When Pennsylvania resident Ruth Clarke needed a second hip operation, she faced double anxiety: would the surgery work, and how was she going to pay for it? Her first operation turned out to be twice to cost she was quoted.

Ruth Clarke: The first, they quoted me $32,000 it ended up to be $64,000.

Ruth is one of millions of Americans who find it’s hard, sometimes impossible, to manage the unpredictable costs of healthcare. Which is the big reason why Dr. Keith Smith decided to make a change.

Dr. Keith Smith: We basically felt like accessories to a crime and that really wasn’t what we had in mind when we went to medical school. The hospitals were making a killing and the patients were financially being abused.

He and a colleague opened their own surgery center in Oklahoma City, and in 2009, they did something unheard of – posting all of the prices online. Suddenly, their patients weren’t just from Oklahoma.

Lisa: What did it tell you when people from other states started coming here for their medical procedures?

Dr. Smith: Americans look for value, they’re good shoppers. People shake their head and they go, “wait a minute, this knee arthroscopy is $3,740 at this place and I sure like all of the social media reviews and I’ve done my homework and I was quoted $25,000 by the hospital down the street.” And they start to wonder what really is going on.

Knee replacement surgery can cost up to $57,000 depending on where you get it. Dr. Smith’s center charges just over $15,000. For pacemaker placement, he bills $11,400 while the average cost nationally is over $28,000.

Dr. Smith isn’t alone in wanting to see clear pricing for common medical procedures. Last year, the Trump administration created new rules requiring hospitals to publish prices for common procedures. The rules came into effect in January, but so far, not all are complying. A recent investigation by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of Pennsylvania hospitals found three quarters failing to follow the rules.

Not surprising to Dr. Smith, who feels the big players in healthcare, stop at nothing to crush real competition.

Dr. Smith: It is a cartel. It functions very much like a cartel. And in spite of savagely going after each other competitively, they work together to make sure that the competition is limited enough that they still manage to do very, very well. We’re not a member of the cartel.

Hospitals have defended the price variations saying costs can vary by region, facility, and patient, and other factors figure into negotiated rates, such as patient volume and hospital performance.

Lisa: How do insurance companies feel about you?

Dr. Smith: Insurance companies don’t care for us and the feeling’s mutual. Insurance companies make a whole lot of money when the initial charge is very, very high, and then they apply their so-called discount.

Lisa: So, they’re applying a discount to an artificially inflated price?

Dr. Smith: That’s right, and I won’t give them that because all of our prices are online

Lisa: Give me the synopsis of the $100 aspirin.

Dr. Smith: Hospital charges a hundred dollars for an aspirin and the insurance company rides in on its white horse and applies a big discount and you only have to pay $5 for the aspirin. You and I both know if you went to your local pharmacy, you could buy all of the aspirin, probably in their entire pharmacy for $5. We don’t charge for aspirin here we give them away.

Ruth Clarke is happy with the way her surgery in Oklahoma turned out, and she’ll be back if needed.

Ruth: If I need new hips, I had other new hip or knees. You know, like people I will be there. I will not. There won’t even be a question.

In the end, the best advice for patients is to do what they do with just about any other big purchase: shop around before you buy.

Sharyl (on-camera): This impacts so many people. Out of interest how much was her second hip operation?

Lisa (on-camera): $22,000 no extra charges. All covered by her insurance. And as you heard in the story, her first operation, $64,000. She’s still paying it off and expects to be doing so for the next few years.

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4 thoughts on “Medical Tourism”

  1. Marc Maximilien Authier

    Its not just the costs by the way. USA is truly hellish place when it comes to healthcare costs but it is also one hellish place when it comes to what I call medical freedom. Dr Benjamin Rush was right when he predicted that not including health freedom in the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights would eventually lead to medical tyranny. Today its now the case and if you want to get truly low cost and freedom health you have to go to places like Eastern Europe, Russia, Mexico or even India to get a decent quality price package and health freedom. It is particularly now the case with the Covid 19 scandemic but also with many other diseases like for example cancer. USA is truly the worst medical tyranny I know of in 2021. Americans are by far less free than most people on Earth. Americans have to liquidate criminal organizations like the FDA and the CDC. These people are mass murderers and strictly work for Wall Street and are not defending health freedom, affordable medicine or for that matter true science. In USA health care is a deadly racket. And as a result USA as of 2021 has the same horrible heath care levels as Nicaragua !!!!!! (UN statistics)

    1. Marc, you may be interested in
      this—re the Medical Mafia :

      This is “Breast Cancer Month.”

      “Appalling Liberals Celebrate after
      Fla. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Wife Diagnosed
      with Breast Cancer” :

      — Sharyl and Full Measure Team —

      Recall my advice to study this book,
      re IODINE—having been PURPOSELY
      taken out of bread-making, then
      replaced with a known anti-anxiety
      molecule, B R O M I N E (( fluoride
      had been put in our water supplies
      similarly to keep the natives docile;
      and see Nazis use of fluoride in their
      prison camps during WW-II, to
      better control a hostile population )) :

      “The Iodine Crisis—What You Don’t Know About Iodine Can Wreck Your Life,”
      by Lynne Farrow.

      Every female needs to know of
      the conspiracy she has exposed
      in her book—secretly imposed
      by the Medical Mafia in 1973.


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