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Tailored to paying in cash

May 12, 2010|By Michael J. Arvizu

Burbank urologists Michael J. Hyman and Philip Ira Weintraub have launched HealthyPrice.com, which touts low-cost medical treatments for cash-paying patients.

The website launched in Burbank earlier this year with a team of local doctors, but there are plans to include doctors from all over Southern California.

The site allows users to browse and buy medical services much in the same way one would browse for music or shop for clothing. Users choose the medical services they want and pay for them on the site. The user is given a billing code to give to his or her doctor when they make an appointment. The money from the sale goes to the doctor when the online transaction is complete.

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While it may seem unconventional, Hyman and Weintraub said the site uses certified doctors and highly qualified specialists.

Users can select from a range of services, including physical examinations, pacemaker checks, biopsies and stitches for lacerations. The site also offers services in a wide array of specialties, including gastroenterology, cardiology, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology and podiatry.

Someone in the market for a colonoscopy, for example, would search for that procedure on the site. Any additional fees, such as post-operative care, pathology or lab tests, are charged separately. And patients can sometimes can buy a service as a package, if the procedure requires post-procedural care. In the case of the colonoscopy, a user could buy a package that would include biopsies, lab tests, pathology and post-operative care.

When a user selects a procedure, they will be pointed to the doctor who provides that service, including a name and address. Users can also view a profile of the doctor, along with background information and a video introduction.

The doctors decided to begin HealthyPrice after a conversation about the enormous challenges cash-paying patients face when trying to pay with something other than conventional insurance. Most cash-paying patients, Weintraub said, run the risk of being charged over-inflated prices for a procedure because they lack “collecting bargaining power,” Hyman said, something the insurance companies have in abundance.

And some doctors, he said, are weary of cash-paying patients who could turn out to be drive-offs — patients who receive services but end up not paying.

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