At Pomerene Hospital in Millersburg, Ohio, prices for procedures can be revealed in advance.
The practice began because the hospital, halfway between Cleveland and Columbus, serves a large number of Amish patients. Amish prefer to do business on cash, and so having a price list became important, said Laura Schlabach, who has been the hospital’s Amish Advocate since 2008.
Schlabach was raised Amish and speaks Pennsylvania Dutch. So when Amish patients come to the hospital and ask for cash prices, she then is able to tell prices and arrange the procedures. Actually, she performs the same service for non-Amish patients, who are also able to receive cash or self-pay prices.
At ClearHealthCosts, we’re interested in prices, so we asked her if we could see a price list.
“We don’t publish the price list publicly, but it is available to anyone who is self-pay,” she said. “It’s mostly the Amish who use it, but it’s available to anyone who is self-pay to pay at the time of service.”
How does it work? “If you were to see one of the doctors, the doctor would give them my information, and they would contact me and say ‘I am scheduled for that procedure on this date, and I would schedule that and set it up,'” she said. The population of the area, she said, is about 49 percent Amish, so there’s reason to do this.
Here’s the Amish Services page for the hospital’s web site:
“Holmes County is home to the largest Amish/Anabaptist community in the world. We are pleased to offer services that meet the special needs of our Amish neighbors.
“Pomerene Hospital has packages available for our self-pay patients. Over 90 package prices are available. The packages include the fees associated to the hospital, surgeon and anesthesiologist, except for deliveries which include only the hospital and the anesthesiologist, if applicable. Please call our Amish Advocate at (330) 674-1584 ext. 1767 to obtain package pricing or to set up a package.
“Pomerene Hospital also has a nicely furnished Amish house where family members of patients can stay. Pomerene also has a transportation service to and from Pomerene Hospital, Millersburg Medical Center, East Holmes Family Practice, Holmes Family Medicine, Nashville Medical Clinic, Pomerene Medical Center in Mt. Hope, and Pomerene Medical Center in Sugarcreek for a low-cost fee. To schedule transportation, call (330) 674-2600.
Want to know more? Here’s a piece from The Times Reporter of New Philadelphia, Ohio, where we first learned of this practice.
It reminds us a bit of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, where medical treatment and surgery prices for cash customers are published in advance. The Oklahoma center is run by Dr. Keith Smith, who calls himself a libertarian, and his business partner, Dr. Steve Lantier.
In an article on reason.com about the center, which compares it with another Oklahoma medical facility, Integris Baptist Medical Center, a traditional hospital in Oklahoma City, the writer tells us of a surgical procedure to correct nasal infections performed by a Dr. Jason Sigmon, who practices at both places: “The [Integris] bill, which is strictly for the hospital itself and doesn’t include Sigmon’s or the anesthesiologist’s fees, totaled $33,505. When Sigmon performs the same procedure at the Surgery Center, the all-inclusive price is $5,885.”
Jeanne Pinder is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded ClearHealthCosts.
She was previously a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University School of Journalism. ClearHealthCosts has won grants from the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York; the International Women’s Media Foundation; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with KQED public radio in San Francisco and KPCC in Los Angeles; the Lenfest Foundation in Philadelphia for a partnership with The Philadelphia Inquirer; and the New York State Health Foundation for a partnership with WNYC public radio/Gothamist in New York; and other honors.
Her TED talk about fixing health costs has surpassed 2 million views.