In a Nutshell: Having to fork over a few thousand dollars for an unanticipated medical procedure can be seriously damaging to a household budget. For those who don’t have insurance or have a high unmet deductible and find themselves staring down a costly procedure, MDsave may be able to help. The technology platform connects those looking for affordable medical procedures with doctors who offer easy-to-understand, upfront pricing in exchange for prepayment. Whether it’s a simple blood test or a life-saving angioplasty, MDsave has helped consumers save serious money. Shopping on the MDsave marketplace is as easy as browsing Amazon. And financing options are available through the CareCredit credit card for many procedures.
LeAnn spends her days managing her North Dakota farm — gardening, breeding goats, and making cheese. A few years ago, LeAnn began experiencing severe heartburn and discovered that she would have to have an angioplasty and a heart stent due to a blockage.
LeAnn, who was uninsured, asked her doctor in North Dakota how much the procedure would cost. The answer was probably not good for LeAnn’s heart — $33,000.
“I mean, we paid $41,000 for our first home. It was just kind of a shock!” LeAnn recalled. “My husband decided to get on the internet and search ‘How much should an angioplasty cost?’ and that’s when we found MDsave. A savings of over $20,000!”
Through MDsave, LeAnn found a doctor in Oklahoma that not only performed her heart procedure at a much lower price, but he and the hospital staff were also much more accommodating to her needs.
MDsave is not a miraculous health care provider, but rather it is a technology platform where people who need medical procedures or services can shop for the best price among a list of providers. Instead of getting sticker shock following a hospital visit, MDsave users know exactly how much they will be paying, and pay it before they even visit the doctor. That means no surprise bills.
The platform essentially delivers off-the-shelf health care by connecting consumers with providers. MDsave does this by working with local doctors and hospitals that are already contracted to offer the same quality of care for out-of-pocket patients.
It’s essentially a more efficient way for patients to buy the care they need. And the medical care is often far cheaper than were consumers to follow the traditional route, which is layered with third parties, contractors, and other intermediaries, and can cause prices to skyrocket.
“One of the things that the whole experience with MDsave taught me is that you have a chance to really research providers and see the price upfront,” LeAnn said. “It’s incredible that you can actually select a provider of your choice. People just don’t realize that they have the power to shop!”
Medical Providers Put Their Fees Into One Upfront Price, Which is Generally Lower Than the National Average
“The main mission here is bringing together patients who are looking for upfront, affordable, understandable health care prices with doctors who are willing to give them these better prices in exchange for prepayment,” said Kate Steurer, MDsave’s Brand Marketing Manager.
Steurer explained how fees can quickly add up with the traditional medical procedure process. A simple x-ray may include a hospital fee and a radiologist fee. More complex procedures like surgeries can quickly become much more complicated when it comes to pricing, she said.
“Our technology helps get rid of the intermediaries in health care transactions,” Steurer said. “By getting rid of that, we’re able to make the transaction simple between the patient and their provider.”
MDsave presents some compelling numbers on its website that illustrate just how much consumers can save through its platform. The estimated national average for the cost of a blood test is $40 while consumers can find a blood test through MDsave for $20. The estimated national average cost of a mammogram is $401 — with MDsave, it’s $199. And while a colonoscopy, on average, runs $4,412, through MDsave, consumers can find one at an average of $2,170.
The benefits that come with using MDsave are not just for consumers. Steurer said the simple pricing and prepayment takes a lot of stress off health care providers as well.
“I would say that one of the bigger benefits for the hospitals we work with, as well as other providers, is the fact that it has simplified their collections process so much,” she said. “CFOs have nightmares about bad debt, but this process is not a bad debt risk.”
Users Can Shop the MDsave Marketplace as They Would an Online Retailer
Steurer said the MDsave platform is made possible through advances in technology in recent years.
“People can come in through MDsave.com, which is our marketplace,” she said. “Hospitals, doctors, imaging centers — everyone who’s partnered with us who participates in the marketplace — have these bundled prices up on the website. It’s like Amazon.com, you just add your selection to your cart.”
She said the details of each bundle are clearly presented, including explanations of the fees, and if the procedure requires a doctor’s order. Customers can search by procedure and location to browse for providers in their area and within their pricing limits.
“Once you click ‘add to cart,’ you check out and get a voucher sent to your email,” Steurer said. “You take the voucher to your appointment, and your service is paid.”
Patients can also buy procedures at the hospital or doctor’s office.
Most MDsave users do have insurance, but the platform can be used by just about anyone paying out of pocket. Individuals, who are insured with high deductibles, are seeking a procedure not covered by their insurance policies or are uninsured can all use the service.
“If you have insurance and your procedures are covered, it makes sense to have your insurance pay for that if you don’t have to pay out-of-pocket,” Steurer said. “But there are certainly a lot of policies that have high deductibles or won’t cover certain procedures.”
Financing Options are Available to Help Customers Pay for More Costly Services or Procedures
While MDsave users can find prices that are significantly less than the average cost, some procedures are still much higher than most people’s monthly budgets allow.
That’s why MDsave offers financing options through its partnership with CareCredit, a credit card for health, wellness, and personal care.
“CareCredit offers the ability to pay over time with promotional financing options available,” according to the MDsave website.
Steurer said CareCredit, with its ability to allow patients to pay over a period of time, has been a great partner for MDsave.
Customers can apply for a CareCredit credit card at checkout and receive an instant credit decision. If approved, customers simply accept the terms and conditions and receive a voucher for their procedure.
“Whether it’s for a lab test or even emergency surgery, you shouldn’t have to worry about how to cover the cost of medical care,” according to the MDsave website. “That’s why MDsave is pleased to accept the CareCredit healthcare credit card.”
Customers can use the CareCredit credit card and take advantage of its promotional financing again and again at more than 210,000 locations, with the same benefits for any qualifying purchases, according to MDsave.
“For over 30 years, CareCredit has been a leading provider of promotional financing for health, wellness and personal care products and services,” according to the website. “You can use the CareCredit credit card to help pay out-of-pocket costs for the entire family, including copays, deductibles, and other costs not covered by insurance.”
Whether you simply need a blood test or something more serious like the angioplasty LeAnn needed, MDsave can make it possible at a more affordable rate. And, also like LeAnn, you won’t have to sell the farm just to stay healthy.