'Healthcare Bluebook and MediBid helped me save on a colonoscopy'

Elizabeth  ·  Mar 30, 2017


Are you looking to save money on a routine test that is not a shared expense? Why not try some of the imaginative ideas for negotiating a better price Samaritan has run in recent newsletters? I’m glad I did.

Even though my family’s history of colon cancer made an initial colonoscopy advisable, I postponed it for 10 years because of the cost. I had heard that in our area, the routine procedure ran $2,000 or more.

An article in the December 2016 Samaritan newsletter caught my attention. “Tips for Getting a Better Price on Your Health Care” by Ron Drummond outlined concrete ways to collect information before making a commitment.

With the article as my guide, I first looked up an estimate of the procedure’s Fair Price at the Healthcare Bluebook website. They listed a screening colonoscopy in my area at just under $1,400. 

Next, I navigated onto the MediBid website from the Samaritan Dashboard. I read how MediBid allows cash-paying patients to receive competitive bids from providers around the country. MediBid is free to Samaritan members, so with nothing to lose, I typed in my request, giving my “date needed” as three months in the future to allow plenty of time to review any replies. 

By late January, I had received six offers ranging from $450 to $2,600 from doctors all over the country and even one in Costa Rica. Dumbfounded by the range in price and puzzled how to evaluate the bids, I read the information supplied by MediBid on each bidder and viewed their health care ratings. These offers looked more and more like real alternatives, yet choosing a doctor out-of-state without a referral seemed a little risky.

The offers I had received gave me confidence to approach two recommended local gastroenterologists for their cash-pay estimate. To my surprise, their estimates differed from each other by $850, and both were much higher (2½ times and nearly four times higher) than the MediBid offer I liked best.

MediBid then sent me a helpful email clarifying the next steps. They reassured me that “accepting” a bid only meant that the doctor and I could talk directly.

Once I clicked “accept,” the doctor’s name and contact information appeared. I called his office and spoke to two of the staff. To my surprise, the doctor called me back that afternoon to discuss details. He was just as his MediBid profile portrayed him—friendly, experienced, and passionate about personalized, inexpensive patient treatment. Although I could have contacted friends in his state for help checking his reputation, the half-hour conversation and the doctor’s good reviews eased my mind. 

Because his bid will save us many hundreds of dollars, my husband and I were willing to schedule the colonoscopy in a distant state. After paying for round trip airplane tickets, a rental car, gas, two nights in a motel, and the colonoscopy itself, the total will still be less than the procedure would have cost at home.  I encourage Samaritan members to try Ron’s tips and investigate MediBid’s options for themselves.