Free Market Healthcare at Work
March 01, 2020
Submitted by Colleen McMahon-Ingraham, President, The McMahon Group
Prairie SurgiCare (PSC) recently scored another victory for healthcare through usage of its free market principles when providing medical service. Earlier this week, Mr. J. Bennett received a 2-level disc replacement for large disc herniations in his neck that were causing nerve damage and spinal cord compression. Mr. Bennett was referred to PSC through his employer who was seeking a solution for unsustainable escalating healthcare costs. “Prairie Spine’s transparent prices drew them to our attention,” said Mr. Bennett.
Unsustainable healthcare cost is sadly an all too frequent story in our communities today. When asked about the advantages of transparent pricing, Mr. Bennett said, The hospital back home was 7 times more expensive than Prairie SurgiCare.” For that kind of discount, one might be concerned with the quality of care, so we asked Mr. Bennett and his wife to comment. “We can’t thank Prairie Spine & Pain enough for their great care—such individualized attention. Everyone was so professional and attentive,” was their response.
We then had opportunity to speak with Dr. Richard Kube, MD, Founder of Prairie Spine & Pain Institute and Prairie SurgiCare, to get his perspective on free market medicine and its impact on patient care. “We strive to treat patients as customers, which is naturally more empowering because it provides them a greater sense of autonomy,” said Dr. Kube. “Patients need to feel like they have a choice. Mr. Bennett exercised that choice, and we were able to perform a 2-level disc replacement instead of the fusion recommended back home which should lead to quicker recovery and improved long-term outcomes in his particular case.” Dr. Kube further added, “We performed the disc replacement, a more advanced and generally more expensive procedure, at over $150,000 less than the originally recommended fusion. The employer, which is a self-funded, self-insured business is able to see the immediate impact of those savings, and they will receive no surprise bill from us, or anyone involved with us ever.”
Certainly, with that type of discount, we asked how care was affected by such low pricing. Dr. Kube responded by saying, “Everyone thinks we have to cut a lot of corners to provide care at our price, but the reality is the only thing cut is red tape. Insurance adjusters, utilization review, arduous preauthorization and collections processes and the like add tremendously to administrative time and cost. Without the bureaucracy, we can afford 1:1 nursing, a spine specific state of the art operating suite, and a homelike environment while still cutting prices significantly. We hire the best staff, and they all share the same passion for providing the best care and experience for patients. We consistently perform above the national average in all major metrics on our patient surveys. Anyone wondering what Mr. Bennett thought of his care simply needs to read his testimonial on our website.”
While those comments addressed components of medical care, we also asked Dr. Kube about the physical space used for patient care. He said, “With respect to our environment and personal experience, I would just share this. Before leaving, Mrs. Bennett asked to get the leftovers from the dinner she had with her husband while watching TV in front of the fireplace in his recovery suite the previous night. Let that sink in for a minute. When is the last time, if ever, that you heard a patient say that at the time of discharge?”
Finally, we inquired as to why the free market model is so important. Dr. Kube shared, “By eliminating useless tasks and middlemen, we can spend all our resources directly on the patient’s care and his or her experience. The patient should be the focus, and nothing accomplishes that better than a free market system. Free markets naturally find the sweet spot of value where buyers and sellers come together in the economy, and healthcare responds to free market forces like any other part of the economy.”
Colleen McMahon-Ingraham is a serial entrepreneur. Originally from the Central Illinois area, she moved to Maine and established a successful family business. After returning to her Central Illinois roots, she continued her entrepreneurial track record as a small business owner, COO in a medical practice, and healthcare disruptor. Get in touch with Colleen and her team about direct primary care or medical cost sharing community, Sedera, on the web at healthcareunplugged.net or by phone at 309-644-4528.
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