Get a Medical Discount in the U.S. With One Private Health Care Exchange

[Ed. Note: All this week, Daily Reckoning editor Peter Coyne has been reporting from Havana, Cuba. In today’s email edition, he relayed a harrowing story of one poor soul who fell ill while traveling through that “communist mecca”… and the surprisingly efficient medical care he received. In keeping with that theme, our resident health care guru, Jud Anglin, describes a unique way around some of the inefficiencies in the current U.S. health care sector. Read on…]

With the Obamacare open enrollment period for 2015 now in full swing (it started on Nov. 15 — just 11 days after the mid-term elections), I strongly maintain my position that you should “opt out.”

I’m referring, of course, to enrollment in the federal and state insurance exchanges as mandated under the Affordable Care Act. You don’t have to enroll. Most likely, you will not incur any penalties. After all, since Obamacare was enacted, the government has continued to add exemptions at a rapid pace. They’re currently up to 14.

For example, if “you experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance,” you are exempt. Or “if you recently experienced the death of a close family member,” you are exempt.

I don’t imagine that an IRS agent will show up at your door demanding proof of such excuses.

The reason you should opt out of Obamacare is because of the significantly higher costs in insurance deductibles, the higher premiums, and the limited plan choices on offer.

If you are covered by Medicare or a corporate plan, you may be safe for a short while with regard to coverage. However, you are likely to find it harder in the coming months to escape the increasing premium and deductible costs.

“…average savings through MediBid are 80% versus billed rates, and 50% versus ‘insurance discounted’ rates.”

We think you can do better on your own. If you’re willing to think and act differently…

In 2011, Ralph Weber published a book entitled MediCrats: Medical Bureaucrats That Rule Your Health Care. In it, the Canadian-born Weber explains the problems plaguing the current health care system, while also providing readers with a “formula to fight back [and] take control of their own health care and beat the medicrats.”

But Weber did more than just write about what people should do. As an entrepreneur, he set about helping people find a solution by founding his own health services company called MediBid. This is what I want to introduce you to today.

Founded in 2010, MediBid is a Web-based “marketplace for medicine” platform that allows seekers of health care to meet up with providers of care in a private auction “exchange.”

It works like this: If you find that your health insurance deductibles are too high for a surgical procedure that you’re seeking, simply visit MediBid’s website, register, pay a $25 “seekers fee,” and then submit an online request for your desired procedure.

Within a short period of time, you’ll begin receiving competitive bids from surgeons who are interested in taking your case. In addition to their quoted price, these surgeons also include their bios and practice licenses, along with references, so as to increase your comfort level for selecting them.

The most obvious advantage of using MediBid is the amount of money you can save.

According to Weber, “average savings through MediBid are 80% versus billed rates, and 50% versus ‘insurance discounted’ rates.”

So far, approximately 120,000 consumers have now used MediBid to find doctors for medical procedures.

Perry Hunt, a 50-year-old man from California, is one such person who has used the service. He was profiled by CNNMoney earlier this year. In the article, he discusses how he used the website to find a surgeon for a hip replacement. His local doctor quoted him $70,000. But through MediBid, “he accepted a bid from a doctor for $21,000… The surgery ended up being a huge success.”

Just how many doctors are registered with the website? WebMD says that the most recent figure is approximately 6,000 doctors or surgery centers, in addition to a limited number of hospitals.

As with any service business, there are pros and cons that you have to consider.

On the downside, once you find the right doctor and price on MediBid, you will likely have to travel to the location of the doctor to undergo your procedure. This means you’ll have to factor in transportation and lodging costs associated with your surgical procedure.

More importantly, Matthew DeCamp, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins, notes that “since doctors participate voluntarily, consumers won’t always have a full range of choices and may not pick the most experienced doctor.”

This is why you should conduct extensive homework before going ahead with any procedure. You can do this by vetting doctors through Web searches and phone calls to references, in addition to contacting hospitals and clinics where the doctor currently works.

MediBid also recommends that you “call the state licensing board for the state of the doctor [you] are going to see [to] verify that everything is correct.” These details can be found by visiting the website of the American Medical Association.

I can see how you could also use MediBid as a negotiation tool with your local surgeon.

If after reviewing the physician and facility you find that you’re not satisfied, MediBid will not charge you again to reopen your bid request.

As for international doctors, seekers should make sure that the surgeon is employed by a large, reputable hospital, preferably one that is JCI-accredited. JCI is the international division of the Joint Commission, the U.S. accreditation body based in Chicago.

Based upon my experience as a medical tourism facilitation agent, I can see how you could also use MediBid as a negotiation tool with your local surgeon. After obtaining several bids, you could take them to your local surgeon to see if he or she can compete.

As a consequence of Obamacare, the increasing insurance premiums and deductibles will continue to lead to more innovations like MediBid.

I certainly expect this number to increase significantly over the coming months.


Jud Anglin
For The Daily Reckoning

P.S. This is the worst possible time for health care costs to go up — not that there’s ever a good time. But as readers of today’s Daily Reckoning email edition could’ve discovered, there is actually a massive public health crisis going on right now in the U.S. And not only does the government know about it… they’re actively trying to cover it up. The information is too sensitive to share on our website, but if you’d like an opportunity to discover this info for yourself, you can click here right now and sign up for The Daily Reckoning email edition, completely free of charge. Once inside, you can contact us and we’ll be happy to send you exactly what today’s DR email readers got a chance to see.

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