Surgeons Offer Services on Internet Auction Sites
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, August 06, 2014 06:35 PM

An unconventional and controversial option, an online medical auction site called Medibid largely operates outside the confines of traditional health insurance. The 4-year-old online service links patients seeking nonemergency care with doctors and facilities that offer it, much the way Priceline unites travelers and hotels. Vetting doctors is left to prospective patients: Medibid does not verify credentials but requires doctors to submit their medical license number for patients to check.

Patients/bidders pay $25 for one medical request or sign up with MediBid for $4.95 per month, for a 12 month term with unlimited requests. Once a request is listed bids start arriving.  After accepting a bid the doctor's name and license number is provided.  Once a bid is accepted, Medibid bows out, and patients work out arrangements with the doctor.

To Medibid founder Ralph Weber, using the Internet to arrange nonemergency medical care is long overdue. Americans, he says, are increasingly going online to book travel and even find a mate. Medibid enables them to strip away the opacity that surrounds healthcare pricing where charges vary wildly even in the same market and can be nearly impossible for consumers to obtain.  "We introduce transparency and also competition," said Weber, whose company is based in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Roughly 6,000 doctors or surgery centers and a handful of hospitals, most seeking patients from abroad, have registered as "bidders"; physicians pay a fee ranging from $50 to bid on one request to $250 to bid on many.