MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When we go to the store, we like to have plenty of choices and we like to know the cost of those choices. The healthcare marketplace is no different. In a growing demand for transparency, medical price websites are on the rise.
Matt Hutchings had a cough that just wouldn’t quit. After going to the doctor, he learned he had a more serious condition than he expected.
“They found out I had Barrett’s Esophagus. That’s where the acids in your stomach come up,” Hutchings said.
The condition can sometimes lead to cancer of the esophagus, so the specialists recommended surgery to correct this. Matt looked into the cost of the surgery with the doctor who diagnosed him. Even with his insurance, it was going to cost him up to $60,000 out of pocket.
With the help of his insurance company, Matt was able to price match the procedure.
“Then we come to find out there was a lot of other doctors and hospitals that would do it for a much lesser price,” Hutchings said.
Matt used a company called Medibid. Medibid is one of a growing number of healthcare bidding websites, where doctors can place bids for various procedures.
“The goal is to make healthcare more accessible, affordable and allow the employee to really see the quality, and make an informed decision,” said Ralph Weber, President of Medibid.
Other sites like Clear Health Costs and Pokidot also help consumers find prices for medical procedures, but could these types of sites compromise quality of care?
Caitlin Donovan of the National Patient Advocate Foundation likes that these websites promote transparency, but she’s concerned patients may choose a doctor based solely on cost.
“Patients may not do their due diligence,” Donovan said. “We’re also worried that even if they research their doctor, they may still go for the lowest bid, and less expensive is not a guarantee of high quality. On the same token, more expensive isn’t always either.”
Matt ended up going to a specialist out of state and paid significantly less than the original quote from his local doctor. The surgery was a success, and matt doesn’t suffer from heartburn anymore. It took some extra research and travel, but Matt says he’d do it all over again.