The cost of a colonoscopy? $1,225.92.
An appointment with a lung specialist? $221.10.
Or how about a well-child exam? $149.05.
These are all prices posted online for actual doctors in Oklahoma City. And those prices are easy for the general public to find.
They're posted on MDSave, a website that partners with hospitals and health care professionals to list their prices online.
And SSM Health Care of Oklahoma, a health care network that includes St. Anthony Hospital, is one of the first health systems in the U.S. to sign up to post its providers' prices on the website.
“We have been seeing the health care system beginning to change, and we have experienced more and more patients having high deductible insurance plans, and we get more and more phone calls from patients asking what a service will cost before they ever schedule for that service or come in for it,” said Steve Powell, regional vice president of delivery system integration for SSM Health Care of Oklahoma. “MDSave approached us with their program, and it really struck us as something innovative in this marketplace that would allow us to be of better service to those patients that are shopping for their health care.”
The website is stark contrast from the usual complexity that a patient finds when they try to find out the cost of their health care.
Anyone can access prices by going to MDSave.com. While on the website, a person clicks which service they're looking for, and for more specific results, types in their ZIP code.
Powell said MDSave brings an increased sense of competition to the health care marketplace, especially as more health care providers sign up.
“We'll see over a period of time what happens with that in terms of pricing,” he said. “I assume what's going to happen is it's going to level out the market somewhat because we'll have information as to what others are offering and will be in a position of making a decision to perhaps lower our rates if that looks appropriate, to be competitive, so the benefit to that will be the patient.”
MDSave is in three states, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Texas, and plans to expand to Arizona.
And MDSave is talking with two other hospital systems in Oklahoma.
To use the website to book an appointment, users forgo using their insurance. And when a user goes to pay for a service, that person must agree that he or she isn't covered by Medicare, Medicaid or any other state or federal health care program.
The website advertises a discount that people receive by booking through MDSave. For example, the website quotes the average price for a colonoscopy to be $1,422.07. However, by booking through MDSave, a person “saves” $196.15.
Paul Ketchel, MDSave CEO and co-founder, said the site is targeted, in part, at people who have high-deductible plans.
“With MDSave, we pay the doctors and the hospitals in six days or less with no claims to file, so it just eliminates all of the paperwork ... so at the end of the day, even though the patient is getting a savings that they wouldn't be able to get on their own, in many cases, the doctors and the hospitals are making as much money as they would on a normal claim, and they're getting paid much, much faster,” Ketchel said.
St. Anthony pays MDSave to use the service. Ketchel said it costs $149 per doctor listed, although the company offers some discounts for large hospital systems listing multiple doctors.
Powell declined to say how much St. Anthony was paying for the service.
However, he said it was relatively inexpensive when compared to other strategies that the health system uses to connect with patients, such as marketing and advertising.
“Unlike some of the advertising and marketing that health care providers do that's more brand recognition and that sort of thing, this is an audience that's very specifically looking for a service and is ready to access that service,” he said. “It gives us a marketing avenue that's very much point of care, that's very much appealing to those patients looking for a service at that point in time.”
We have experienced more and more patients having high deductible insurance plans, and we get more and more phone calls from patients asking what a service will cost before they ever schedule for that service or come in for it.”
regional vice president of delivery system integration for SSM Health Care of Oklahoma