Is a Cash Price Really That Difficult?

One of the things I hate the most about moving is finding a new doctor.  I still drive 4 hours to see my old one, but decided it is time to find myself a new one.  So, I thought I would start making some phone calls and see if “in network” would really save me any money vs. someone who is giving me a special, cash price on MediBid.  When I read through my high deductible plan information, it said that I could get special, pre-negotiated prices by selecting someone in network.  I thought this would be interesting, but it wasn’t anything like what I had expected.

I thought, at first, this might be simple enough.  I got a list of 5 doctors near me, in my “network” and that all had positive reviews online.  When I called each one, I had to explain that they were on my “in network” list, but that I have a high deductible plan, so I would be paying out of pocket and needed to know how much it would be.  Since I was told that my insurance provider had a special rate pre-negotiated for me, I thought this would get me a better price than just saying “I’ll be paying cash.”  I thought wrong.

Would you believe every one of them told me I have to have a “new patient” exam first, before I can get an annual woman’s health exam?  A physical to get a physical seems silly, first of all, but to make it worse, all but one had a range of prices for this new patient exam. 

   “It will be between $52 and $160 for the new patient exam,” said the receptionist at one office. 

   “Is there anyway to know which end of the scale I’ll be on?” I asked.

   “No, it depends on what the doctor wants to do,” she said.

Now, on MediBid, I’ve seen many doctors give bids for exams that were “age based” and included certain things due to the age and gender of the patient.  But apparently, with that office, my gender and age didn’t matter.  And she couldn’t tell me what all would be included at either the high or the low price.

Another office got as far with me as the pricing for the annual Women’s Wellness exam.  This range was between $116 and $200.  So I went through the standard questions, starting with what’s the difference, and where do I fall?

She couldn’t tell me. 

So she puts me on hold to go ask.  Fair enough.  I appreciate her checking into this on my behalf.  She comes back, asks my age, puts me on hold again, comes back and says…

“It will be $350 for you.”

Somehow, that doesn’t fit within the $116 – $200 range she quoted a moment ago. 

The moral of this experience came down to the bottom line.  Prices ranged from $332 to $466 for this annual checkup x2 (remember, I was told I have to have the “new patient” exam on a visit separate from the “women’s wellness” exam).

The Average price on MediBid – $250.  Well under the “special, pre-negotiated” pricing from my insurance provider’s “in-network” doctors.  And the best part – I only have to explain what I need one time, not call again and again and explain things, ask where I would be in the price range, and not get clear answers. 

Although MediBid’s best purpose is to save patients thousands of dollars on large procedures, saving a few hundred makes a difference, too.  :) 


2 responses

My “in-network” doc is also an AAPS doc. I have a high-deductible plan, and a physical with woman exam is $35. I went in for a skin biopsy last year, still only $35. Lab costs are extra of course, but never over $200.

I know the MediBid price includes labs and everything, but couldn’t get a straight answer from the receptionists I called about their pricing inclusions, which is what makes this whole thing so silly to me. I am well aware that if I go in there and the doctor wants to order an extra test, it will cost extra – so why is it so hard to give a price for just an exam, or just an exam plus standard Pap lab work?

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