Some American Hospitals Already Have Price and Quality Transparency, with Package Prices Quoted in Advance — So long as you’re a foreigner, that is.

Although Canadian health care is supposedly free, each year thousands of Canadians come to the United States instead. Many have spent so long waiting for care in Canada that they will pay out of pocket for US care in order to escape suffering or permanent debilitation or death.

About 400 to 500 a year ask Rick Baker for help. Mr. Baker’s company is Timely Medical Alternatives. It specializes in finding US hospitals and doctors who have good outcomes, treat patients promptly, and charge fair prices.

The differences between the package prices that Mr. Baker negotiates, and the prices charged by providers in most insurance networks, are huge. Here’s a sample that he provided: 


Mr. Baker’s services work so well for Canadians, he has come up with a new idea — offering them to Americans. He plans to offer his services to people who have high deductible insurance, the uninsured, and those who just want to pay less for good health care. His new business, North American Surgery, will help Americans get much lower prices in exchange for cash payment from a network of 22 surgical centers in 13 states.

Comments (7)

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  1. Ken says:

    This is a great post. It shows that American hospitals can post transparent prices and they can compete in an international marketplace, if freed from the debilitating effects of third party payment. At least some of them can.

  2. Joe S. says:

    Very interesting.

  3. Larry C. says:

    I believe Americans can get these prices as well. But they have to pay cash — probably up front — and they have to be willing to travel.

  4. Brian W. says:

    Getting some dental work done last year, when my dentist found out he wouldn’t have to file paperwork with an insurance company (because I pay cash from my HSA), he immediately gave me a new set of prices, much lower than what he was originally going to charge.

  5. Gary says:

    Information like this seems to affirm my opinion that the biggest problem with health care in the United States is not a market failure. It’s the failure to have a transparent, free and competitive market.

  6. Nancy says:

    Thanks for posting this. It’s very valuable to know this is going on.

  7. Joyce says:

    The waiting times are long here also. I waited 3 weeks for cateract surgery and 2 hours before having it the office called asking if I was going to pay them something before the surgery. They found out my family HSA deductable had not been met yet. I told them they still needed to submit it first. HSA’s are NOT AFFORDABLE. My Aunt just waited 5 weeks to have a shunt put in.
    I always think about the cost first…IN CANADA the cost is never a factor…I would have had this Cateract surgery over five years ago if I could have afforded it.
    My husband is from Canada (LEGALLY) and the health care is what he misses the most. he does not understand what everyone is afraid of. I can go on and on about this.
    A public option will give me a choice and I deserve to have that choice.