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Patients Look to Priceline Model for Affordable Surgery

Wed, 08/06/2014 - 12:23pm

Francisco Velazco couldn't wait any longer. For several years, the 35-year-old Seattle handyman had searched for an orthopedic surgeon who would reconstruct the torn ligament in his knee for a price he could afford.

Out of work because of the pain and unable to scrape together $15,000 - the cheapest option he could find in Seattle - Velazco turned to an unconventional and controversial option: an online medical auction site called Medibid, which largely operates outside the confines of traditional health insurance. The 4-year-old online service links patients seeking nonemergency care with doctors and facilities that offer it, much the way Priceline unites travelers and hotels. Vetting doctors is left to prospective patients: Medibid does not verify credentials but requires doctors to submit their medical license number for patients to check.

Velazco paid $25 to post his request for knee surgery. A few days later, he had bids for the outpatient procedure from surgeons in New York, California, and Virginia, including details about their expertise. After accepting the lowest bid - $7,500, a fee that covered anesthesia and related costs - he learned that his surgeon would be William T. Grant, a Charlottesville orthopedist.

To read the full article go to: http://www.medpagetoday.com/PracticeManagement/Reimbursement/47080

 

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