Bidding system for health care services

SAN DIEGO - Health premiums have increased 97 percent for employees who get their insurance from their employer, as many companies switch to high-deductible insurance plans.

The Kaiser Family Foundation says that's putting a big burden on workers and employers. There are simple steps you can take to save money without compromising on quality whether you have insurance, you're uninsured or under-insured.

We shop for deals to restaurants, clothing stores and spas. So, why not shop for health care savings?

"It's different," Tom Maher said.

Maher is willing to try new ways to slash his health care bills. He saved 50 percent on a routine lab test he needed by bidding on the test on a site called Bid on Health.

"It's kind of like Priceline for the hotel business," Maher said.

Like Priceline, you name the price for the health test you want. In San Diego, there are more than 80 lab tests you can bid on.

After your price is accepted, you find out the name of the lab.

"It's a national company," Maher said.

Maher was paying $30 out of pocket for the test. He now pays just $15. While the claim isn't submitted to his insurance, he doesn't mind because his deductible is so high.

His results are sent directly to his doctor.

"If the quality of care, in this case the quality of lab work, is equal I don't see why you wouldn't want to find a less expensive alternative," Maher said.

In San Diego, Bid on Health only offers lab work. It hopes to add radiology, dental, and urgent care soon. But is this doctor approved?

"I think anything that helps people be healthy and have healthy wallets is a good thing," said Cleveland-based Dr. Scott Frank

Frank is the director for the Master of Public Health program at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. He said cost is a discussion with more than half his patients.

"I think it starts from the fact that our health care system is basically broken. The cost of care is too high," Frank said.

Frank encourages his patients to look for cheaper options, but he says you need to be careful.

"I think the mistake would be if people consider themselves their own doctor and not working with a health professional to make decisions that are evidence based," Frank said.

Print this article Back to Top