By Morgan Kohls — BRI chapter leader at Ohio University – College of Medicine (OU-COM) who attended the FMMA Conference on a BRI Scholarship
On Saturday, September 27th, Ralph Weber spoke at the first annual Free Market Medical Association (FMMA) conference in Oklahoma City. Weber and his team founded MediBid, a program designed to allow greater access, transparency, and value in healthcare.
Weber began his presentation by explaining that although the terms are often used interchangeably, “healthcare” and “medical care” are two entirely different concepts. “Medical care” is the concrete, service by-product of healthcare — the financial instrument that can be summed up by one word: coverage. By purchasing healthcare, we do not purchase access, but rather coverage of our medical care needs. This purchased “healthcare” dictates how much medical care we are entitled to, yet we have little control over how that medical care is purchased. This purchasing of entitlements and annual CLIFF deductibles simply drives up utilization and costs – exactly as it was designed to do. Lack of transparency in medical
care’s real costs, along with artificially heightened prices within networks, allows for insurance companies’ artificially augmented discounts. Also driving up costs are, as Weber calls them, the “medicrats”: regulation-producing bureaucrats in medicine that work simply to fund and create more work for themselves in order to justify their existence.
“Medicrat”: A regulation-producing bureaucrat in medicine who works simply to fund him-/herself by creating more work for everyone in order to justify his/her existence. ~Ralph Weber, Co-founder, MediBid
Weber also touched on the fact that there are huge price differences in medical care today, even within PPO networks. To makes matters worse, these prices are never transparent in the slightest. We have been trained as shoppers to assume that if an item for sale has no price tag, it is likely too expensive. We usually lack the financial confidence to purchase something unless we know what it will cost us. Same goes for medical care. Since we can hardly ever predict the cost of care, and we are given no mechanisms for uncovering it, we assume it is far too expensive and that by default requires insurance.
Weber’s MediBid aims to solve these problems. Patients in need of medical care can log in once for $25 or become a member for less than $4 a month. Patients enter the service that they need, and every applicable physician member (charged $249.99 a year) is contacted. The physicians then send their bid for the service needed, and the patient can select their optimal choice. MediBid supplies the patient with everything he/she needs to know: where the physician went to school, how long he/she has been in practice, how often he/she performs the required procedure, and more. MediBid is most often used for orthopedic surgeries, arthroscopic surgeries, colonoscopies, MRI/imaging, and other non-emergency procedures. People are travelling all over the U.S. and even all over the world to receive excellent care for fair, reasonable prices. With MediBid, patients have all of the power – something that our current “healthcare” system cannot give them.
(This is Part 1 of a seven part series of reports on the 1st annual meeting of the Free Market Medical Association held Sept. 26-27, 2014 in Oklahoma City. Seven BRI student leaders received BRI scholarships to attend. Previously posted reports can be found here: Part 2 Dr. Keith Smith’s keynote address by Kristy Hawley; Part 3 How the Free Market Works – Panel Discussion by John Grimsley. Part 4 Doug Nunamaker, MD of AtlasMD by Jared Rhoads. Additionally, FMMA is in the process of posting full video recordings of the conference presentations here.)