Some North Texas physicians are advertising cash prices for health care procedures.
The providers use PriceDoc.com, which bills itself as a "health care pricing transparency service." Patients can search for providers who offer reduced prices for medical procedures if they pay in cash.
April Schauer went more than 10 years without a visit to the dentist because she thought she couldn’t afford it.
“My husband is in the Army, and they cover his dental, but they don't cover mine," she said.
She found her way to Grapevine dentist Becky Coats via the Internet, using PriceDoc.com. She said she found lower prices for the fillings, whitening and resurfacing she needed if she agreed to pay in cash.
"It was really easy to use,” Schauer said.
PriceDoc.com began its pilot program about a year ago in Seattle and launched in Dallas-Fort Worth last November.
Typical users are uninsured, underinsured or seeking elective procedures. They can use the site to research health care providers who list reduced prices for procedures paid for in cash as well as submit bids for services to multiple providers.
The website boasts of more than 2,200 providers posting more than 50,000 medical and dental procedures available for cash prices.
"I think this is a good website for people that are cash patients and also gives them alternatives and lets them know what offices are willing to meet their needs, maybe give them a little bit of a discount," said Dr. Coats, of Grapevine Dental Care.
Dr. Charles Wallace, a Dallas plastic surgeon, said negotiating is not a new thing for his specialty.
"We've always quoted cash prices, or self-pay prices, for our procedures because they've never been covered by insurance,” Wallace said.
But he siad he thinks PriceDoc.com might make it easier for potential patients to shop around for the right doctor and save money in the process.
"They can look around, they can get some quotes, and they can get something that includes the surgeon's fee, the anesthesia fees, the hospital fee or surgery center fees, as the case may be,” Wallace said. “And then they can contact the physician and see if that's going to work out for them.”
And doctors say they like it because the patients pay for the services up front.
"What you're doing is, you're taking the middle man of the insurance out, particularly for the patient who either doesn't have health insurance or who has a very high deductible or health savings account situation where most of that up-front money is coming straight from their pocket," Wallace said.