Looking across the country at all of the many options for self-pay patients seeking affordable healthcare, I occasionally see areas where there seems to be an awful lot of activity among providers and entrepreneurs seeking to meet the needs of self-pay patients. Seattle is one such area, home to SimpleCare, Qliance, and several cash-only pharmacies, among others. Texas seems to have no shortage of doctors and other providers and innovators as well, including the Surgery Center Network and DocCost.com.
Oklahoma seems to be another area where innovative providers are leading the way in catering to self-pay patients. The Sooner State is of course home to the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, which offers simple, transparent pricing for all of their surgical procedures. And according to a conversation I had several months ago with Dr. Keith Price, who runs the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, a number of local hospitals and surgery centers have responded by offering their own versions of price transparency.
The latest Oklahoma-based entry into the self-pay healthcare market is a partnership between MDSave.com and Digestive Disease Specialists, Inc., a company with two ambulatory endoscopy centers and six other facilities in Oklahoma. The Herald Online newspaper reported yesterday on the partnership:
MDSave and Digestive Disease Specialists, Inc. (DDSI) announced today the formation of a unique partnership that offers patients discounted bundled pricing for colonoscopies, which can be directly purchased and scheduled through MDSave.com. For the first time ever, patients will be given the total costs upfront for a colonoscopy and can purchase the procedure online – at rates up to 66 percent less than those offered to patients without insurance or with high-deductible plans. Patients can also save on other digestive system services and procedures.
Bundled pricing is all-inclusive pricing that incorporates all costs associated with a procedure into a single lump sum. Typically, patients of a hospital or surgery center receive multiple bills for charges like facility fees, physician fees, lab fees and anesthesia fees, which can be confusing and drive up costs. Instead, with bundled pricing, patients receive all applicable charges listed together in one amount on one bill.
…In addition to colonoscopies, new patient office visits, endoscopies, flexible sigmoidoscopies and the center’s new hemorrhoid banding procedure are also offered through MDSave’s website…
For example, Oklahomans in need of a colonoscopy would on average pay $3,675 if they are uninsured or $2,183 if they have a high deductible insurance plan. If booked through MDSave, the procedure would cost $1,225, a savings of up to 66 percent…
Other procedures are offered at a discount as well. An uninsured patient or one with a high deductible plan in need of an endoscopy would pay on average $1,821. The MDSave cost for the same procedure is $1,543, providing the patient a savings of 15 percent. The same patient would save 16 percent on a new patient office visit, which costs $192 with MDSave compared to $229 when booked without the service…
This announcement comes on the heels of the recent launch of MDSave’s partnership with SSM Health Care of Oklahoma, which includes St. Anthony Hospital, Bone and Joint Hospital at St. Anthony and St. Anthony Shawnee Hospital. In addition to procedures that treat digestive system diseases, Oklahomans using MDSave will also find transparent pricing information on services like wellness visits, flu shots and even specialty care like arrhythmia exams.
I haven’t written yet about MDSave, but it looks like another great source for finding cash-friendly providers and facilities, similar to DocCost, SprigHealth, and PricePain.com. There are a couple of different search tools at MDSave, one allows you to enter the specialty you’re looking for, and your zip code. It will then return a list of providers nearby that are in that specialty, along with contact information, background, and other information. There may also be prices for several different treatments, which you can purchase through the web site.
You can also search by treatment, and again get nearby providers, along with cost information. It appears that wherever there is a price listed, the provider has agreed to provide a discount to anybody who purchases the treatment and pays through MDSave.
The benefits to self-pay patients are significant. For the most part, it looks like MDSave and the other companies that provide similar services are providing cash prices to doctors that aren’t necessarily cash-only. Because finding a cash-only doctor can be a challenge, being able to find cash-friendly doctors online is probably the next-best thing.
All of the companies have limited geographic reach at the present. MDSave looks to only be in Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas at the moment, SprigHealth in Oregon and Washington, and PricePain has providers in Florida, New York, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. DocCost probably has the largest geographic reach at the this time, with providers in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Maine, New York, Ohio, and Texas.
These companies are likely to continue to grow and evolve, providing a valuable resource for self-pay patients, especially in states like Oklahoma, Texas and Washington where there seem to be large numbers of providers catering to patients who pay directly for their own care.