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Doctors Bid for Your Healthcare Dollars

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Doctors Bid for Your Healthcare Dollars

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dollarsWe are fortunate to live in a country with the most advanced healthcare in the world. However, with that comes one of the most complex, costly systems of healthcare delivery.

As you are aware, we are also in the middle of massive changes to our healthcare system as we know it. In response to the complexity and changes in our healthcare system, patients and providers have been searching for ways to work within this system.

One of the more creative ways that has been available for several years is doctors and healthcare facilities bidding for patients willing to pay cash for their services. Yes…you read that correctly…I said doctors are bidding for patients’ business…in an online global marketplace.

The system seems fairly simple. A patient who needs some type of healthcare service can register at a service such as MediBid.com and put out a request for bids for that care. This can include any type of healthcare service, including physician evaluations, diagnostic testing, and even complex surgery. Physicians who are registered with this service can then submit a bid for this patient’s request that lists the upfront cost the patient would pay for this service; it lists what is included in the price, and what is not included. The patient then has the responsibility to evaluate the proposals he/she has received and decide which physician he/she would like to follow up with.

Physicians who participate in this process find this system to be far less cumbersome than dealing with insurance companies, pre-authorizations, and often waiting for many months to be underpaid for services they provided. Patients willing to pay cash find that they can often save a huge amount of money dealing directly with the physician who will perform the service. They are willing to pay cash for a variety of reasons including having a Healthcare Savings Account, being uninsured, having very high healthcare deductibles, or being an international patient on a medical waiting list. Some reported examples of savings included:

1) A patient in Chicago needed to have a colonoscopy. His cost in Chicago was supposed to be $3,500. He entered a request for bids for a colonoscopy on MediBid. A doctor in Oregon entered the “winning” bid…$800! Even with airfare, rental car, and hotel, the patient said his cost was less than half of the “price tag” in Chicago. And the patient was more than pleased with the doctor’s services.

2) A construction worker in the northeast needed to have a hip replacement. His cost near his home was projected to be about $75,000. An orthopedic surgeon in TX entered a bid for $21,000. Another physician actually sent a lower bid for $16,000, but after researching both physicians, the patient decided to go with the higher priced bid. He was very pleased with the surgeon’s services and back to work, climbing up ladders, quickly.

3) A total knee replacement billed at $50,000 could be done through MediBid in the U.S. for $10,000 or overseas for about $7,500.

In dealing with services like MediBid, the onus is on the patient to do his “homework” in researching the skills and qualifications of the physician bidding for his business. Although MediBid requires physicians to submit their license number, there is no guarantee regarding the quality of care.

On first glance, this seems like a system with a potential for disastrous outcomes for a patient. However, consider this…how much research do you do about the doctors you select for your own health care? If you have insurance, do you simply check to see whether or not they are in network? How much do you really know about your doctor’s skills and qualifications?

As changes continue in our healthcare system, and patients and providers explore their options, there will most likely continue to be many other creative ways to provide and receive skilled, affordable healthcare. Hopefully, this will not also be an opportunity for the unscrupulous to harm or take advantage of those trying to stretch their healthcare dollars and keep themselves and their families healthy.

Jane Heron RN BSN MBA LNCC is a legal nurse consultant at Med League.

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