MediBid Touted as 'Priceline' for Surgery - NBC Southern California


MediBid Touted as 'Priceline' for Surgery



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    There is an online medical site that claims they can reduce the cost of common surgical procedures, things like hip and knee replacements.

    They do it by letting doctors bid against each other to get your business. Think of it as Priceline for surgery.

    It is for those with high deductibles, or health plans that deny certain surgeries.

    It is saving some people thousands of dollars.

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    You can't tell by watching, but a few years ago Perry Hunt, a construction consultant working on this future parking garage in Hollywood, could barely walk due to a bad hip.

    "I was eating Advil like candy," he said.

    Hunt's doctor said a hip replacement was the only cure. Surgery was scheduled.

    "This was a go. I mean I was crippled and couldn't move and I was looking forward to this and I got this phone call."

    The call was devastating. Three days before surgery, Hunt learned his insurance refused to pay because of the cost -- $100,000 for the hospital alone.

    "So if you add in the doctor, anesthesiologist, and anything else, the actual hip piece that gets installed in the body, I'm assuming it would have been well over $100,000.

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    Hunt canceled his surgery and began searching the internet for a solution.

    He discovered an online company called MediBid.

    "We are kind of the of health care," said Ralph Webber, the MediBid CEO.

    Webber said the idea is to connect patients with doctors.

    Here's how it works.

    Patients pay a small fee, describe their condition, then doctors bid, just like an auction, posting how much they will charge for the procedure.

    "It was a match made in heaven as far as I'm concerned," Hunt said.

    Hunt was living in Texas at the time and said the bids started rolling in right away.

    "I got two bids out of the Houston area that were right in the neighborhood of $15,000 apiece," he said. "I knew right then and there this was going to happen. It was going to get done."

    After researching the doctors who bid for his hip replacement, Hunt picked a surgeon and paid $21,000 for everything.

    It was a fraction of the cost quoted to his insurance company.

    "The bureaucracy is what is costing so much money, not the actual care," Dr. Peter Leport, a surgeon.

    Laport gets some of his patients through MediBid.

    He said people with high deductibles need to shop around.

    "I can do a hernia on a cash basis much cheaper than what their deductible is," he said.

    MediBid is not intended to replace your existing insurance. It is an alternative that could save you money if you have a high deductible policy, or if your insurance refuses to pay.

    Doctors bid based on their costs, instead of a price that is negotiated with insurance companies. Those rates can be twice as much in some instances.

    Beyond MedBid, you can also compare surgical costs on multiple sites and apps.

    "I've been pain free for two and a half years now," Hunt said. "It's amazing."

    Hunt is back to climbing around construction sites. He says you need to do your homework and check out the doctor, but for him, it is well worth it.

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