Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Staying Viable OMA Builds Center to Cut Costs

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Staying Viable OMA Builds Center to Cut Costs

Article excerpt

As rising medical expenses have led insurers to reduce coverage for many medical procedures, one group of oral and maxillofacial surgeons in Oklahoma City has fought back by building its own surgery facility to cut costs and increase the chance of coverage.

"We felt we needed to do what a lot of other medical professionals are doing, and that is work out of their own office, build a facility in their own office that they can actually do the same procedures," said Kent Cohenour at Oral and Maxillofacial Associates.

In recent years, insurance carriers have been reducing coverage for a wide range of treatments, and the surgeries provided at OMA have been easy targets for elimination.

"Frankly, a lot of the procedures we do aren't life threatening," Cohenour said.

OMA surgeons deal with everything from removal of wisdom teeth to reconstructive surgery of the jaw and face.

Without insurance coverage, many people can't afford to pay for those procedures out of pocket. To remain viable, OMA officials sought new ways to cut costs so insurers could justify providing coverage.

The answer for OMA was to build a new operating room and surgery suite at 3727 NW 63rd St. in Oklahoma City. Using those facilities allows OMA physicians to reduce the total cost of treatment because "it costs so darn much to go to a hospital" to perform the same procedures, Cohenour said.

"We're actually able to increase patient access to care and reduce costs by doing it in our own office," Cohenour said.

The use of hospital facilities often involves extra charges for the use of hospital space. Because of cost shifting (due to Medicare/ Medicaid shortages), those charges can be substantial. By doing procedures in-house, rather than at a local hospital, the total cost of a procedure can be reduced by 30 percent to 50 percent, Cohenour said.

"We're not trying to compete with hospitals at all," he said. "We're just working on patients that don't have access to a hospital with insurance."

Construction of the OMA facility took a year and was completed in November 2000. …

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