ImageLast week we heard Dr Stephen Schimpff talk about his ideas on reducing the costs of chronic disease, a huge contributor to global healthcare costs.  This week, Dr James Spearman tells us about his new medical tourism organization, TravelSurgeryUSA and his mission of providing high quality care for affordable all-inclusive and transparent pricing.  Dr Spearman's surgery center is in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina, and offers flat fees for numerous different surgeries at a large discount.  Please watch the video and visit the website for more details!

 To see other videos in this series, please go to this page.  And if you have a story to tell that can reduce healthcare costs and raise quality of care, please comment below or email me at  Thanks!

Video transcript (by TranscriptionStar)

Joan:  Hello.  I'm Joan Justice with HealthWorks Collective.  And I'm here today with Dr. James Spearman orthopedic in Charleston South Carolina, and the founder of TravelSurgeryUSA which is a medical tourism organization that provides cost transparency and all-inclusive pricing for numerous surgical procedures.  Dr. Spearman's vision is to provide quality surgical care at an affordable price and Dr. Spearman why don’t you tell us how you got started with TravelSurgeryUSA and a little bit about how your organization works.


Dr. Spearman:  All right I started the company with the idea that one there's no transparency in pricing, and patients often times pay way more than they need to and usually a waste of money or money that they pay more they need to goes to the hospital.  I'm fortunate enough to be a part owner of a Surgery Center, and I have for years studied both efficiency and how to make things work better, and also how the money flows, so looking at all that I decided that people going overseas to have procedures done simply because they were cheaper. 


It would make more sense if we could do those same things here in United States providing the quality of care we expect here in the United States, but doing at prices competitive with those overseas, so that be a win-win for all our citizens here in the U.S.


Joan:  Sure.


Dr. Spearman:  So over the past year I put together a program of competitive prices for initially orthopedic procedures.  Being a orthopedic surgeon I started out, looking at orthopedics and how we could do these

procedures and give a price that was similar to those been obtained in other countries.  Our pricing includes not only the surgeon's fees, but also the facility, any implants that need to go in and the cost of anesthesia. 


By doing that I could get one set price and then people could compare that with other prices and know what this one goal will be that's all they're going to have to pay.  And so I started with that, and soon after I started I had other specialties wanting to join me, so now we have ophthalmology, we have urology, we have GYN, we have plastic surgery and most recently, we've added gastroenterology.


With our pricing, the majority of our fees when you -- if you were to do the same thing we do in the local hospital say we offer somewhere between 50 and 80% savings over the cost of the same procedure done in a hospital on your community.


Joan:  That's amazing.


Dr. Spearman:  And we do that by one been efficient and two understanding the actual cost of a procedure, as opposed to just putting the charge out there which people always see what the charge is, but they don't know what the cost is so we're working with the cost value. 


Joan:  Yeah I saw your website all the cost they're totally transparent listed there, and you don't take insurance, but can the patient apply himself or herself for her insurance.


Dr. Spearman:  Well, what we do is we, we are -- these are cash prices however, the patient has a insurance company that allows them to have add a network benefits that's what they call it.  And they want to come and pay us cash and they can their receipts and go to their insurance company and follow their claim you know after the fact just like if they had been on vacation somewhere and got injured and had to go to the ER those they're responsible for filing the claims.


We take the cash upfront.  It may save their insurance company, so their insurance company may agree to do that ahead of time.


Joan:  Sure got it.  And you say your prices how do they compare to India for example?


Dr. Spearman:  Well, when you throw in the cost of travel, our prices in some cases are less than going to India or Costa Rica.  We have very competitive prices for joint replacement and for smaller procedures like carpal tunnel release or an ER arthroscopy [Phonetic] [0:04:36] is actually cheaper to come to us, and it would be to travel to another company, a country so.


Joan:  Yeah and you get to go to beautiful Charleston?


Dr. Spearman:  Yeah that was another issue with our -- when we -- you know I started this Charleston, South Carolina was -- is one of the top tourist destinations and recently Conde Nast Tourist Magazine rate us number one in the world as a tourist destination so it’s a great place to come.  The living expenses when you're here are very inexpensive. 


So if somebody did come for a total joint like it goes say at the beach or three or four weeks are 3 or $4000 because houses on the beach in the winter time are cheap, and they would get the chance to stay at the beach in lovely South Carolina be 30 minutes from downtown Charleston, and be able to have their procedure done, rehab and then go back home.


Joan:  Can't beat that.  Well, thank you so much Dr. Spearman and readers please go to TravelSurgeryUSA, go to the website and check out the procedures offered and all the all inclusive pricing this is a huge step forward in the cost transparency in healthcare, and increase in healthcare quality.  Thanks so much.


Dr. Spearman:  Thank you.