Consumers in search of a bargain are heading online for everything from vacation accommodations to electronics, home loans to handyman services, and even that perfect little black dress.
But have you thought about going online to get bids to repair your hernia or for stem cell treatment?
Ralph Weber, CEO of MediBid.com, launched the first website where users in search of medical care can receive multiple bids from doctors, and in turn can pay up to 80 percent less than the uninsured rate and 50 percent less than the insurance-discounted price for procedures ranging from cancer treatments and hip replacements to tummy tucks.
Weber said the company started in 2010, catering to Canadians on medical wait lists, but has recently expanded to uninsured Americans or those with high insurance deductibles, businesses looking to offset costs, or people looking for alternative medicine not available to them locally.
So far, Weber estimates that about a “couple thousand people” have already completed medical procedures by logging on to the website and hooking up with a physician, sometimes outside the patient’s home country.
The goals that fuel MediBid and the Affordable Care Act is increased competition and transparency among health care providers. Market-based competition should drive down soaring medical costs, while transparency in pricing means consumers won’t get stuck paying for something they don’t really want or need.
But not everyone agrees that pure market-based competition for health care is always best for consumers.
“In making the relationship between the provider and the patient a market-based one, in the way the website does, we might be concerned, first and foremost, that the relationship is a financial one,” Dr. Amy MacArthur, an assistant professor of philosophy who teaches Bio-Medical Ethics at High Point University, told WGHB-TV.
Here’s how it works:
Doctors pay a fee ranging from $50 to $250 per year, depending on their level of activity, to submit their medical license information to MediBid and create a profile with their certifications, experience and expertise.