Accepting bids – who’ll do the cheapest colonoscopy?

April 19, 2014 in health care costs

If you can’t compare health care prices in advance of paying for an MRI or some other test, maybe you should ask for bids.

I came across Medibid last year when I needed a colonoscopy, and decided to give it a try. I had to answer some questions about my health, explain what I was looking for, say when I wanted to have the test (within 1-2 months) and how far I was willing to travel (not outside my state).

Over the course of a year (plus), I got back three bids, all were a long way from Boston.

The folks in McMinnville, Oregon pitched their location (3,238 miles from my home) as a plus.

“Sorry I’m not in your state, but at $500 you could take a trip to Oregon wine country and get your colonoscopy and probably still save money. We would be happy to help if we can be of service to you.”

The bidder in Baltimore, at $1500, was clear and succinct.

“Includes anesthesia, facility fee, and physician fee.”

And the facility in Nashville, while the most expensive, made a good case.

“The pricing includes physician, facility, anesthesia and pathology fees. We are a Joint Commission and Medicare certified facility with an emphasis on providing high quality care to our patients. We are located in central Nashville on the St. Thomas Midtown campus (previously Baptist Hospital). It would be our pleasure to care for you/your family member in a warm, friendly atmosphere.”

But I’m not up for becoming a medical tourist for something as routine as a colonoscopy. Would anyone travel for this test? Should I be surprised that no one in my home town, the medical mecca, put in a bid?

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