Imagine going into a surgery knowing exactly what your bill would be at the end. It’s hard to imagine in America’s secretive world of health care, but that is exactly what Greenville-based surgeon Wade Naziri offers at his independent surgery center. Carolina Journal reporter Julie Havlak wrote a story this week about the significance of Dr. Naziri’s surgery center. Havlak writes:
Naziri began fighting for price transparency because his patients couldn’t afford out-of-network weight loss surgery at Greenville’s local hospital — which billed one of his patients $54,000.
So, Naziri founded Southern Surgical Center, where he now charges $12,000 for the same surgery — a cash-based price he posts online for bariatric and general laparoscopic surgeries. Unlike most Americans, Naziri’s patients know what they will pay for out-of-network health care.
America’s third-party-payer system of health care has led to runaway prices. Havlak quotes several experts on the subject to illustrate this issue:
“In what other industry do you purchase anything and not know the price until you come out the other side?” said Marni Carey, executive director of the Association of Independent Doctors, which supports price transparency. “They want us in the dark. What a brilliant system. You go in, you’re blind, and you have an open check. Your health problem is the least of your worries once you get the bill.”
…“It’s simply that we pay higher prices for pretty much the same services,” said Gerard Anderson, John Hopkins University professor of health policy. “It’s the prices, stupid.”
“We’re expected to pay with a blank check, whatever they choose to charge us. … It’s been highway robbery,” said Cynthia Fisher, founder of Patients Rights Advocate…“The insurance industry model is broken, and there is a huge opportunity for a new model. Transparency will lead us to this revolution.”
David Hyman, author of Overcharged: Why Americans Pay Too Much for Health Care, says the best way to change the health care market is on the ground level – like what Dr. Naziri is doing. Havlak quotes Hyman:
“Market entry is the most powerful disruptive force in causing industries to change,” Hyman said. “And there doesn’t have to be that many new players to cause the incumbents, who are worried about losing market share, to shape up.”