HOUSTON - It’s an idea that’s as tried and true as Texas itself, the old-fashioned auction.
It’s alive and well. We bid on everything. We bid on cattle, on cars, on eBay.
But can you imagine an auction, of sorts, where doctors and surgeons bid against each other to earn your business?
That is the idea behind a company called MediBid.
“Our mission is to give better quality health care at a better price with more choice and more access," Ralph Weber, CEO of MediBid, said.
With the cost of health care procedures skyrocketing -- for example, the cost of a hip replacement rose from $35,000 in 2001 to $65,000. in 2011, according to Truven Health Analytics -- consumers are screaming for relief.
Enter MediBid, started by Weber, a Katy businessman. MediBid allows you to put whatever procedure you want to have done out for bid.
Then doctors from all over the country and the world can bid on the job, giving you their price for that particular procedure.
The prices can vary wildly from one doctor to the next.
How much can you save?
“We say anywhere from 35 percent to 75 percent on most procedures," Weber said. “And each bid comes with a rating on that doctor and a brief history of their work."
With MediBid, you simply log on the website, register your name, give a brief health history of your particular condition and ask for bids for a particular procedure.
Some of the most common procedures are: knee replacement, hip replacement, MRIs, hernia repair, colonoscopy and knee arthroscopy.
After you create a request for bids, suddenly those bids start coming in, complete with the price spelled out in black and white.
You decide which, if any, of the doctors you want to go with.
Perry Hunt, a 53-year-old construction consultant, desperately needed a hip replacement.
“I was in agony and was eating Advil like it was candy. I was in pain all the time," Perry said.
Perry had health insurance but his insurance company refused to pay for the surgery he needed, and the price out-of-pocket was going to be
Perry was so distraught when he heard the price, he figured he’d just have to live with the pain the rest of his life.
That’s when he heard about MediBid.
“I was depressed. I was angry. I was looking at having to pay $100,000 and then I found MediBid," he said.
"I went on the website and I ended up finding a fantastic doctor in San Antonio, one of the best in the country, and I paid just $21,000."
Yes Perry had to drive from his home in Dallas to San Antonio, but he saved $80,000.
Regina Warner, an administrative court clerk in Dallas, needed gallbladder surgery, but even with health insurance her out-of-pocket expenses for the deductible and the co-pay were going to top $10,000.
She found out her company had a contract with MediBid.
So she went on the website and made a request for bids and found a doctor in Nacogdoches charging just $4,600.00 for the surgery.
Regina says her health insurance wound up paying every penny of that cost, and she walked away without paying anything.
In fact, she was paid $1,000 for travel expenses.