Online Bidding Site Delivers Price Transparency for Medical Procedures

July 1, 2014

by Cheryl Haas

cheryl-haasIf you’re a business person and considering an outside contract for any kind of service, it’s accepted procedure that you will obtain at least three bids to compare price and quality before deciding which contractor to use. Likewise, if you’re buying a car, purchasing an airline ticket, or looking at hotels, it’s likely you’ll go online and compare several offerings for an in-studio interview is prohibitive. A network-sponsored satellite feed taped remotely at your location will set the network back at least $1,500, and in this era of shrinking news budgets, the stations are likely to find a local, albeit perhaps less authoritative, alternative. Texas Children’s Hospital recently joined the growing list of healthcare facilities, including Mayo Clinic, Beaumont Health System, Henry Ford Health System, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Memorial before settling on your final choice. And yet, when it comes to healthcare procedures, we often go to the facility and physician dictated by our insurance plan, and pay what the insurer says is our portion, thinking we don’t have much choice beyond the list of preferred providers. Ralph Weber, CEO and creator of MediBid, an online bidding service, aims to change that.

Weber likens his service to a Price- for medical care – an online marketplace in which patients can select a physician or provider from multiple bids. Launched in 2010, MediBid provides what Weber says is lacking in the third-party payer system: price transparency, the ability to choose a provider based on the patient’s personal criteria and a direct financial relationship between patient and provider. Typically, MediBid users pay up to 80 percent less than the uninsured rate and up to 50 percent less than the insurance-discounted rate – and they pay cash or credit card at the time of service. Yet Weber says price is often not the deciding factor.

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