WEATHER WATCH
Healthcare professionals praise legislation on healthcare prices transparency
Inside an operating room at the Surgery Center of Oklahoma. The facility has been as transparent as possible with patients, showcasing their prices for their services since 2009. (KOKH/Angelica Brown)

It's a significant step in healthcare reform in Oklahoma.

Governor Kevin Stitt signed House Bill 1006 into law this week.  It’s designed to ensure that patients are better informed about health care costs upfront. It also requires health care providers and facilities to publicize and annually update the cost of the most common health care services.

"It's too bad that a nudge is needed, but I think this is healthy nudge," said Dr. Keith Smith with the Surgery Center of Oklahoma. "The old argument that you can't post prices ahead of time is really withering away pretty quickly. I think this bill is healthy because it helping to change the narrative."

A narrative surrounded by uncertainty and the frustration of surprise, hefty medical bills for Oklahomans. The Surgery Center has been trying to change that narrative for years, launching a website in 2009 showcasing their costs online. The goal was to be as transparent as possible.

"People came from Canada at first and all 50 states, " said Smith. "Its was revolutionary, really."

What followed suit were other websites, like Free Market Medical Association, that help patients shop for better prices that fit their budget.

According to the Oklahoma Hospital Association, HB 1006  fits well with regulations hospitals already follow. The Oklahoma State Medical Association also supported and worked on this legislation. 

Smith is glad we're moving in that direction.

"Making it more consumer friendly will change the entire industry in the state," said Smith. 

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