My doctor is a big believer in preventative medicine. He’s also a bargain shopper. Even though I have no symptoms of heart problems, he’s been after me to have a heart scan to perform “calcium scoring” and determine whether there are plaque deposits that might cause a problem in the future. When he heard I could have the procedure performed for only $95, he really encouraged it.
So, yesterday morning I drove to the Ohio Health Westerville medical campus off Polaris Parkway on the north side of Columbus. The facility is in one of those buildings you see around large cities throughout the nation — trim and brick, three stories, spread out, with lots of free parking. I’d made a reservation, so I walked right in to a bright and spacious reception area, paid my $95, filled out a form, and was escorted to a room that featured one big piece of high technology equipment. I stretched out on a platform without having to remove any clothing, a friendly technician attached a few electrodes underneath my shirt, and the machine then moved me back and forth through a spinning circular device and instructed me on when to hold my breath as x-ray pictures of my heart and lungs were taken.
There are ways to hold down health care costs, and this facility is one of them. It’s in an area where land is cheap. It offers a few services — I saw an emergency room, a surgery center, and the x-ray and scanning suite as I walked in — but doesn’t try to provide every form of care that a person might possibly need. It competes with other providers, which helps to keep costs down. In Columbus, there are dozens of these little pocket hospitals where you can go to have a scan, a colonoscopy, or arthroscopic surgery on your elbow, among other forms of routine health care activities. The pocket hospitals employ hundreds of doctors, nurses, technicians, receptionists, and other staffers.
Yesterday the whole process took about 20 minutes from start to finish, and then I was out the door and headed to work. It was cheap, easy, and convenient. How often do you end up saying that after your encounters with the American health care system?