THIS WEEK IN U.S. DOMESTIC MEDICAL TRAVEL

Volume 2, Issue 8

Dear Colleagues,

After G. Keith Smith, M.D., managing partner and founder, The Surgery Center of Oklahoma, launched a Web-based platform communicating his facility's pricing online, he began to receive tremendous national media attention around the idea of transparency. Soon after, major players in the healthcare market were reaching out and inquiring how his facility was able to showcase their pricing online.

In 2014, Dr. Smith and Jay Kempton, owner, The Kempton Group, co-founded Free Market Medical Association (FMMA), a resource where those interested in adopting this discipline and applying it to the free market in healthcare could network with each other and share ideas.

Now, the FMMA has more than 600 members who have joined together to bring together buyers and sellers of healthcare goods and services - to reduce costs and increase quality.

We're starting to hear from many hospitals, independent surgi-centers and provider groups that want to be better positioned to serve self-funded employers offering medical/surgical travel options.  If you have a good story to tell us, please be in touch!  We want to boost opportunities for Centers of Excellence nationwide. 

Tell us:

What distinguishes your service offering in terms of cost, patient experience and satisfaction, outcomes, or other quality indicators. 

Send us your descriptor, including photos or charts, and we will evaluate for publication in this newsletter.
"Rising health insurance premiums, lack of transparency and increased awareness of how varied medical costs and quality vary dramatically between hospitals and across regions, have pushed consumers right into the arms of international and domestic medical travel. The growing industry provides the perfect solution for patients to receive the high-quality, cost-effective care that they need AND rightfully deserve!" - Laura Carabello, Executive Editor and Publisher, Medical Travel Today and U.S. Domestic Medical Travel.

READERS: I invite you to send quotes relevant to domestic medical travel to editor@usdomesticmedicaltravel.com to be featured in upcoming issues of U.S. Domestic Medical Travel.

Thank you for your interest in this exciting, growing market space. Please be in touch with your comments and editorial contributions, which can be sent directly to: editor@USDomesticMedicalTravel.com.

Laura Carabello
Editor and Publisher

 

SPOTLIGHT: G. Keith Smith, M.D., Co-founder, Free Market Medical Association

13431 Broadway Ext. Suite 130
Oklahoma City, OK 73114
1-866-901-FMMA

About Dr. Smith
Dr. G. Keith Smith is a board certified anesthesiologist in private practice since 1990. In 1997, he co-founded The Surgery Center of Oklahoma, an outpatient surgery center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, owned by over 50 of the top physicians and surgeons in central Oklahoma. Dr. Smith serves as the medical director, CEO and managing partner while maintaining an active anesthesia practice.

In 2009, Dr. Smith launched a website displaying all-inclusive pricing for various surgical procedures, a move that has gained him and the facility, national and international attention. Many Canadians and uninsured Americans have been treated at his facility, taking advantage of the low and transparent pricing available. His most recent effort is the launch of the Free Market Medical Association, which provides a platform where those seeking to obtain high quality and affordable healthcare can find free market-minded physicians and facilities.

Operation of this free market medical practice, arguably the only one of its kind in the U.S., has gained the endorsement of policymakers and legislators nationally. More and more self-funded insurance plans are taking advantage of Dr. Smith's pricing model resulting in significant savings to their employee health plans.  His hope is for as many facilities as possible to adopt a transparent pricing model, a move he believes will lower costs for all and improve quality of care.

He has made appearances on the John Stossel Show, CNBC, Huffington Post, The O'Reilly Factor, Capital Account with Lauren Lyster, the Ron Paul Channel, and has been featured by Reason Magazine's TV division and NBC affiliate, KFOR. The New York Times, ABC news, Forbes and many others have written articles featuring Dr. Smith's revolutionary approach to the pricing of healthcare and uncompromising free market principles.

About Free Market Medical Association
The Free Market Medical Association is a non-partisan association that provides resources, support and education to our membership, and to the public, about the free market movement and why it is so important. We help to defend and expand the practice of free market medicine against the interference and intrusion of the government or other third parties.

It was founded in 2014 by Jay Kempton and Dr. Keith Smith. Dr. Smith is the managing partner/founder of The Surgery Center of Oklahoma. To quote Dr. Smith, SCO is a free market-loving, price-displaying, state-of-the-art, accredited, doctor-owned, and multi-specialty surgical facility. Mr. Kempton is the CEO of the Kempton Group, a third party administrator of self-funded employee benefits in OKC. Mr. Kempton and The Kempton Group focus on changing how employers and participants view and purchase healthcare.

Because of their mutual desire to change the face of healthcare, the FMMA was born. Their goals are to bring together buyers and sellers of healthcare goods and services - to reduce costs and increase quality.
Just a few years later, our membership now includes buyers and sellers of healthcare goods and services who are motivated to change the healthcare landscape. We connect free-market minded providers with individual patients and self-funded employers who have embraced transparency in healthcare. We work with and educate physicians, self-funded businesses, third party administrators and other healthcare service providers/ facilitators in how to further the movement.

Our team of member supporters includes both the long-standing free market warriors, those who are just learning about the movement, and everyone in between.

Go to FMMA.org to learn more about the benefits of becoming a member!

U.S. Domestic Medical Travel (USDMT): We have interviewed you about The Surgery Center of Oklahoma, but are interested in your activities with the Free Market Medical Association (FMMA), as well. How did it get started?

Keith Smith (KS): When The Surgery Center of Oklahoma included its pricing online, we started to get tremendous national media attention. It wasn't long before physicians, facility administrators, surgery centers, imaging facilities and so on were reaching out and wondering how I was able to showcase our pricing online.

After speaking with a number of inquirers, I thought it would be beneficial to offer a resource where those interested in adopting this discipline and applying it to the free market in healthcare could network with each other and share ideas.

My mind started racing, and I knew I needed to partner with another industry professional, so I called my good friend Jay Kempton - owner of The Kempton Group. Of course, Jay was intrigued by the idea, and together we launched the Free Market Medical Association with the idea that it would bring the buyer and seller together without all of the "ticket scalping intermediaries," as I call them.

USDMT: How many members does the FMMA have now?

KS: Right now, we have approximately 600 members.

Just after we launched, we held an annual conference where roughly 125 to 130 individuals attended from all over the U.S. This year, we held our second annual conference, and attendance doubled. We decided to include the buyers, the sellers and facilitators.

USDMT: Is the association a not-for-profit organization?

KS: The FMMA is a for-profit organization, and the reason for that is because I had a hard time starting an organization called the Free Market Medical Association and making it a not-for-profit entity.

We operate like a not-for-profit because all of the money goes back into the organization.

USDMT: Do you have any competitors in the market?

KS: At this point, no. There are certain associations that represent physicians, and then there are associations that represent third party administrators, etc.

Our idea was to get all healthcare professionals involved - the brokers, the stop loss carriers, the TPA's, the primary care doctors and anyone involved in the exchange of buying, selling and facilitating.
If you visit our website, there is a map that contains dots all over the U.S. which represent where members are located and willing to give you a price or have posted pricing online. It also represents buyer members.

USDMT: Do you find that patients are traveling to these facilities?

KS: I can only speak for the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, but we've treated patients from all 50 states with the exception of Hawaii.

If I know of a patient who is considering traveling from a foreign country to our location, I will generally recommend a closer, high-quality facility - if I know of one. I think it is important to recommend a closer facility to the patient to minimize the distance they must travel for care.

USDMT: What groups are showing the most interest in these facilities?

KS: The employers are showing the most interest through their third party administrators.

In fact, one of our goals for the upcoming year is direct employer involvement. The more employers understand about the healthcare industry, the easier it will be for them to work with their third party administrators.

USDMT: Is there an opportunity for international centers to participate, or is this initiative strictly U.S.-based?

KS: We would love for international centers to participate, and in fact, I'm a little surprised we don't have any involvement yet because many of the international centers led the way.

I am concerned that as this movement continues to break ground in the U.S. many of the international centers will see it as a threat.

USDMT: Do any of the hospitals' outpatient centers participate?

KS: The facility representation is heavily tilted towards those that are physician-owned, but there are a number of hospitals - big hospital systems - that are sticking their toes in the water.

I am working very closely with a hospital system here in Oklahoma City - AllianceHealth Deaconess. In early 2016, this facility will communicate its maternity pricing.

Most of the hospitals that are members of the FMMA are physician-owned, which makes sense because if the physicians own the facility, they have eliminated the largest profit-seeker from the equation.

USDMT: Physician-owned hospitals are no longer allowed under Medicare, correct?

KS: Yes, unfortunately that is correct. However, physician-owned hospitals are opening nonetheless and are just notifying patients that they do not accept Medicare.

Borderless Healthcare: A Model for the Future of Medical Care in Workers' Comp
by Richard Krasner

By now, many of you, my faithful and not so faithful readers (and critics), have been aware of my strong interest and passion about implementing medical tourism into workers' comp.

The critics have not silenced me. They have only made me more determined than ever to get the word out...MEDICAL CARE UNDER WORKERS' COMP IN THE U.S. WILL HAVE TO GLOBALIZE, OR ELSE IT WILL FAIL TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE CARE AT LOWER COST AND AT EQUAL OR BETTER QUALITY THAN WHAT IS RECEIVED CURRENTLY.

I capitalized the above because in the three plus years I have been writing this blog, it takes a bit of shouting to get heard in this world.

To make the point I just shouted, I participated yesterday in a webinar on Bloomberg BNA, co-produced by Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP/Manatt Jones Global Solutions.

For all of you political junkies out there, Charles Manatt was the chairman of the Democratic Party from 1981 to 1985.

The webinar, "Healthcare without Borders: The Opportunities and Challenges of Medical Tourism," was an almost 90-minute, four-part presentation given by two managing directors, a partner, and a medical director of a Mexican hospital system.

The presenters were Jon Glaudemans, managing director of Manatt Health Solutions, Andrew Rudman, managing director of Manatt Jones Global Solutions, Linda Tiano, partner with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, and Dr. Alfonso Vargas Rodriguez, medical director of Hospitales H+.

To read the original article in its entirety click here.

New Study: Site of Care a Key Driver of Higher Healthcare Prices for Patients

AHIP-As overall health spending continues to rise, a new study by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), published in The American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC), found that price variation based on where a service was performed led to $1.9 billion in additional healthcare spending on seven commonly performed medical services in 2013.

The study examined price variations for the same services between hospital outpatient departments and physician offices or ambulatory surgery centers for individuals with employer-sponsored insurance. According to the findings, payments for services performed in hospital outpatient departments were significantly higher than payments for the same service performed in a physician's office.

Key findings include:

  • In 2013, the price of a routine office visit conducted in a hospital outpatient department was 21 percent higher than if it had been conducted in a physician's office.
  • The price for chest radiography performed in a hospital outpatient department was 258 percent higher than for the same service performed in a physician's office.
  • An increase in price variation, combined with a shift in favor of services being performed in hospital outpatient departments, led to a 44 percent increase in total health spending from 2008-2013.

To view the full study, click here.

About the Journals and AJMC.com
The American Journal of Managed Care is the leading peer-reviewed journal dedicated to issues in managed care. AJMC.com distributes healthcare news to leading stakeholders across a variety of platforms. Other titles in the franchise include The American Journal of Accountable Care, which publishes research and commentary on innovative healthcare delivery models facilitated by the 2010 Affordable Care Act. AJMC's Evidence-Based series brings together stakeholder views from payers, providers, policymakers and pharmaceutical leaders in oncology and diabetes management. To order reprints of articles appearing in AJMC publications, please call (609) 716-7777, x 131.

###
Providing Health Benefits for Over 200 Million Americans.
Media Contact:
Clare Krusing
Phone: 202.778.3200
Email: Press@ahip.org

To view the original release click here.

Zika Virus: Public Health Officials Say Transmission Easier Than Thought
But UN says efforts to combat virus are stronger than Ebola response
by Zack Budryk

Fiercehealthcare.com-Healthcare leaders and public health officials are putting efforts against the Zika virus into overdrive, amid further confirmed cases in the U.S. and concerns that transmission of the virus is easier than previously thought.

To view the original article click here.

The Economics of Healthcare in 2016 Explained
In all the election fervor, don't forget that healthcare is a major employment engine.
by Ian Morrison

Excerpted from, H&HN Daily, by permission, March 7, 2016, Copyright 206 by Health Forum, Inc.  The excerpt will appear in an upcoming issue of U. S. Domestic Medical Travel along with the link to the article where it appears on the H&HN Daily website.  The permission fee has been waived.

HHNmag.com-We get to pick a new president. And what an array of choices: senators, a socialist and a governor, as well as a Clinton and, of course, Donald Trump, who has excited the electorate and insulted several of the world's mainstream religions. Is this a great country or what?

To view the original article click here.

Study Raises Doubts That Bundled Payments Cut Costs
Many CMS models have yet to reduce spending
by Ron Shinkman

Fiercehealthfinance.com- Bundled payments have been touted as a potential savior for keeping soaring healthcare costs in check, but a new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) has raised early doubts about some of the initiatives being undertaken by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

To view the original article click here.

New Study Says Prices for MRIs Vary Widely -- If You Can Actually Obtain Them
by Ron Shinkman

Fiercehealthfinance.com- Prices for common medical procedures vary widely, and hospitals are not readily prepared to give price information, according to a new report by the Boston-based Pioneer Institute of six major cities in the United States.

To view the original article click here.

Donald Trump Fleshes Out Healthcare Policy Proposals
GOP candidate wants full repeal of ACA, sale of insurance across state lines
by Katherine Moody

Fiercehealthpayer.com-Fresh off key victories in the Super Tuesday primaries, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has added more details to his healthcare policy proposals, saying his plan will broaden healthcare access, make healthcare more affordable and improve the quality of the care that is available to all Americans.

To view the original article click here.

Better Healthcare: A Way Forward

Commonwealthfund.org-Whether measured against international or domestic standards, the U.S. healthcare system could perform much better than it does.

To view the original article click here.

The Institute for HealthCare Consumerism

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You have been cordially invited to attend IHC FORUM & EXPO. The nation's leading conference on innovative solutions in employer sponsored health & benefits, as a VIP, on behalf of Medical Travel Today

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  • Opening night networking reception.
  • Option to attend one of four pre-conference events at an additional cost of $159.

IHC FORUM & Expo will be held at the
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JOB OPPORTUNITIES
Do you know of any available job openings relative to the U.S. domestic medical travel industry? We encourage readers to submit any available, relevant job opportunities along with its descriptions and requirements for fellow readers and industry professionals to consider. All submissions are appreciated.

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About U.S. Domestic Medical Travel
U.S. Domestic Medical Travel, a sister publication to Medical Travel Today www.medicaltraveltoday.com, is a newsletter published by CPR Strategic Marketing Communications, an international marketing and public relations agency based near New York City that specializes in healthcare and life sciences. In the new era of health reforms, U.S. Domestic Medical Travel discusses the growth of domestic medical travel and its importance to hospitals, employers, insurers, health plans, government, TPAs, brokers and other intermediaries.

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Spotlight Interview

G. Keith Smith, M.D., Co-founder, Free Market Medical Association

News in Review

Borderless Healthcare: A Model for the Future of Medical Care in Workers' Comp

New Study: Site of Care a Key Driver of Higher Healthcare Prices for Patients

Zika Virus: Public Health Officials Say Transmission Easier Than Thought

The Economics of Healthcare in 2016 Explained

Study Raises Doubts That Bundled Payments Cut Costs

New Study Says Prices for MRIs Vary Widely -- If You Can Actually Obtain Them

Donald Trump Fleshes Out Healthcare Policy Proposals

Better Healthcare: A Way Forward

IHC Forum and Expo

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