Sold to the Highest Bidder: How a Patient can Benefit from Doctors Bidding on Surgery
You know in movies and TV when the producers start the first scene with a chaotic event where the audience may not know what is happening, but production perceives it will set the tone to draw in the viewers? Then, maybe words flash on the screen saying, "Three months ago," and it all starts again, but this time from the beginning? Well, here is our written version of that.
On June 2, Sam Adams, a herniated disc patient wrote:
This would have been a great idea prior to Obamacare. Now patients buy a policy from the exchange, get their surgery done and immediately quit paying their premiums. It’s a great deal for them and a very bad deal for the rest of us.
Adams had only recently heard about this program and published his comment to an online article describing what MediBid is all about.
Three Months Ago
MediBid, Inc. is an organization that allows patients to specify the whats and hows of a procedure that they need, depending on their medical wants.
Then, doctors bid on it.
“Our mission is to give better quality health care at a better price with more choice and more access," states Ralph Weber, a Katy, Texas, businessman, and CEO of MediBid.
The website's About Us section reads, “Most marketplaces thrive with transparency and competition, and we believe that a lack of transparency in medical care has resulted in higher prices. Most of the time the cost of medical care is determined after the care is received, and you can’t negotiate prices properly because there is no way to give back the medical care if you’re unhappy with the price.”
It goes on.
“We believe this inability to negotiate is why health care is now the single largest component of the American economy. We believe the only solution is to get the price in advance and shop for care based on [the] value in medicine.”
According to award-winning investigative reporter Bill Spencer at KPRC 2 News in Detroit, Michigan, who has 30 years' experience uncovering what the “powerful and criminal try to hide,” “surgeons nationwide, and even at the international level, can bid on a job, giving the patient the best price for that particular procedure.”
Weber explained that by putting patients' surgical needs out for bid, it can save 35 percent to 75 percent on most procedures.
"Each bid comes with a rating on that doctor and a brief history of his work," Weber revealed.
Spencer learned that when using MediBid, a patron logs onto the website, registers his or her name to obtain a login and password, drafts a brief medical history of their conditions, states how he or she wants to be treated, and then asks for "bids."
And, the majority of surgeries issued are hip and knee replacements.
This sounds straight forward enough. So.
Is this a Positive or a Negative?
MediBid claims that doctors from all over the country “bid” on each job, which actually allows the patient to say “yes” or “no” to the offering price for that particular procedure. MediBid charges a $50 fee for each request whether it's performed or not.
Spencer recounts the story of Perry Hunt, a 53-year-old construction consultant, who was in dire need of a hip replacement.
Perry did have health insurance but his insurance provider, for reasons unknown, declined to pay for the surgery, one that he actually needed. The out-of-pocket expense for this procedure was going to be over $100,000.
"I went on [to] the MediBid website and I ended up finding a fantastic doctor in San Antonio, one of the best in the country. I paid just $21,000," Hunt happily volunteered.
Another case is with Regina Warner, an administrative court clerk in Dallas, Texas. Warner required gallbladder surgery. Even with health insurance and her out-of-pocket expenses for the deductible, as well as good ol' copays, the surgery would cost over $10,000.
Then, she discovered MediBid.
After creating a username and password, she went on their website and found a doctor in Nacogdoches, a small city sitting in Eastern Texas, who charged her only half of the estimated cost, coming out to only $4,600.
Warner’s health insurance paid the bill and she walked away without looking to her personal bank account. Spencer also details that Warner said she was paid $1,000 for her travel expenses.
Curtains close. End cut.