A Former NFL Player Scores a Touchdown with Healthcare Bluebook
I learned about Healthcare Bluebook while serving on a team charged with evaluating healthcare options through my company’s Third Party Administrator. As the CEO, I expected to evaluate Bluebook to make sure it was right for our employees. I did not expect I’d be among the first to use it - that is until I learned I had to replace both my knees.
I had my first knee surgery in the spring of 1975 as a freshman playing college football. My sophomore year started with a knee surgery too, but this one was on the other knee. I didn’t know at the time, but that was the beginning of a trend that would include additional surgeries—now totaling thirteen and all sports-related.
After playing two seasons of professional football with the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings, as well as hours spent training and years of recreational sports, I wore out the knees I was born with and needed to replace them both. If I had to replace both my knees, I wanted to do it just once. So, it was imperative that I find the right surgeon and facility for the surgery. But, like so many healthcare consumers, I wasn’t sure where to turn for help with that important decision.
Family and friends were quick to recommend surgeons they knew and soon I had dozens of options, but I still lacked a reliable way to evaluate them. Who should I trust with my legs and why should I trust them?
Then I remembered Healthcare Bluebook.
Quarterbacking My Care
I live in Las Vegas, and so I began my search there. Healthcare Bluebook enabled me to search procedures and see the facilities that perform them, and Bluebook rated the facilities using a simple color code for cost and quality. Green facilities charge a Fair Price or less, yellow facilities charge slightly more than the Fair Price and red facilities are the most expensive.
Quality rankings work the same way. Green facilities are in the top third for quality, yellow meant they’re in the middle third and red meant they’re in the bottom third. Since these were my knees and it was my money, I wanted a green/green provider—one that charged a Fair Price and offered the best quality. After a quick search on Bluebook, I was shocked to discover there were no Fair Price providers for my double knee replacement in Las Vegas.
Calling an Audible
Undeterred, I broadened my Bluebook search to include other cities. Since I’d had a previous surgery done in Park City, Utah, I searched there. Immediately I found exactly what I was looking for—a surgeon and facility with green indicators for both cost and quality. After an initial consultation, the surgeon agreed to the double knee, or “bi-lateral,” procedure and we scheduled it.
I had my surgery on November 5, 2015 and all I can say is this: The Healthcare Bluebook recommendation was the best research I could have done. The physician and facility I chose in Park City, Utah delivered on their green/green status. I was shocked by how low the price was compared to other places I might have gone. And the quality of the outcome exceeded my wildest dreams. I was walking about three hours after surgery, traveling one month after surgery and back to business—and golfing—within ninety days! I hope I won’t need any more surgical procedures, but if I do, I will only search with the Healthcare Bluebook website as my guide.
Now my company encourages all employees to exclusively use Healthcare Bluebook prior to any procedure. We are also changing our reimbursement approach, deductible and co-insurance to reward use of a green/green facility in Healthcare Bluebook.
I have shared the Bluebook story with all my colleagues, my family and my friends. Of course, they have seen the outcome for themselves from my successful recovery and return to full activity. My handicap has gone back down to a single digit and I skied this year without pain for the first time in twenty-five years. Bring on the Black Diamonds.
Robert H. Steele