Patients pay $25 a pop to enter the procedure they want on the website, attach images that would help a doctor determine pricing, or they can opt for a year-long subscription with unlimited requests that costs $4.95 a month.
Then the bidding begins.
It’s a concept much like Lending Tree, an online lending exchange where multiple banks compete for customers looking to lock in a home loan. In this case, doctors compete for patients by submitting the lowest price they’re willing to accept for the specific procedure requested, and tell you up front what services will be included for that price, as well as any terms or conditions.
For the doctor, the incentive is to skip paying administrative costs tacked on by insurance companies, by instead cutting a deal directly with patients who pay cash.
Patients get to see the doctor’s training, education and experience up front, including how many times each year they perform a specific procedure, before making a selection, the MediBid website said.
By knowing the procedure costs up front, it’s easier for patients to compare prices among doctors and find a solution that works for them, Weber said.
But bidding for medical care has potential drawbacks too. For starters, consumers won’t always have a full range of choices and may not choose the most experienced doctor.
While MediBid might be a good alternative for planned procedures, it isn’t meant to be a replacement for health insurance. Patients won’t have time to request bids during an emergency like a heart attack or stroke.
MediBid.com encourages patients using its website to do their homework by researching doctors’ credentials just as they should when choosing any health care provider.
Weber says the company won’t accept any liability if a procedure doesn’t go exactly as planned.
While the site vets doctors to ensure they are licensed, in good standing and not under probation, it doesn’t check in with state medical boards for complaints or make sure they are board-certified in a specialty. The site also doesn’t have its own doctor rating system. Instead it relies on ratings websites like HealthGrades, ZocDoc and others.