Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Markets in Everything: Pre-Paid Lab Tests; It's Like Using Amazon.com to Buy Your Lab Tests

(CNN) -- Day after demoralizing day, Dr. Doug Lefton watched uninsured patients leave his office needing laboratory tests but unlikely to have them done because of the cost. So the Fairlawn, Ohio, family physician decided to do something about it. Working with other doctors and an online marketer, Lefton devised a way to slash the cost of lab tests not only for his patients but for almost anyone, anywhere. 

Working with the Summit County Medical Society, Lefton struck a deal with LabCorp, one of the largest testing companies in the country, and PrePaidLab. The arrangement allows patients to get lab tests done for a small fraction of the normal cost, simply by ordering them through the medical society's website.  People who would ordinarily not be able to afford lab work are paying almost identical the amount the government pays for Medicaid. 

"The prices are spectacularly low for something you can get on the market yourself," says Tom Patton, CEO of PrePaidLab, an online marketer of lab tests. For example, a lipid panel (cholesterol test) can cost as much as $148 for an uninsured person. The same test is available for less than $18 through the site."

Here's how it works: Patients needing lab work can go to the medical society's website and click on the big yellow box in the middle of the page. From there they choose the tests their doctor says they need, give the doctor's fax number, pay with a credit card and print out the order. They then take the order to any LabCorp location in 47 states and have the work done. Results are sent securely to the patient and the doctor, often within 24 hours.

"It's like using Amazon.com to buy your lab tests," Lefton said.

HT: Daniel Sellers

7 Comments:

At 12/08/2010 6:41 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Is it through methods such as this that other nations spend half as much on healthcare and get the same results?

And would privatizing the military obtain similar savings?

Could we sunset the military and start fresh with a total private-enterprise model?

 
At 12/08/2010 7:39 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Incentive counts. Amazing how the perceived threat of government regulation spurs invention.

 
At 12/09/2010 7:19 AM, Blogger Nicolezmomma said...

Personally, I don't think a Doctor should have to be involved. If I want to pay for a test, I shouldn't need a Doctor's permission.

However, it's a start.

 
At 12/09/2010 8:49 AM, Blogger Pzeppy said...

Just an FYI, you don't need to have a doctor to order through www.prepaidlab.com. You can order on your own and get the results delivered directly to you

 
At 12/09/2010 12:53 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"And would privatizing the military obtain similar savings?"...

Still bleeting for attention, eh pseudo benny?

 
At 12/09/2010 1:06 PM, Blogger Cooper said...

What really amazes me is the cost reduction, nearly 90%.

"For example, a lipid panel (cholesterol test) in Lefton's area can cost as much as $148 for an uninsured person. The same test is available for less than $18 through the site."

 
At 12/10/2010 5:27 PM, Blogger Dr. T said...

@Pzeppy

Rules about laboratory test ordering vary by state. Some states do not allow any laboratory testing without a physician's order. Other states allow a limited menu of tests that can be ordered by the patient. Only a few states allow patients to order any lab test they want.

I believe that anyone should be able to order any lab test, but the testing laboratory should be required to provide a tailored explanation of the results from a clinical pathologist (not just generic canned comments on the report). Without such an explanation, too many lab tests would be misinterpreted by patients. This process would be similar to getting a pharmacist's explanation of a drug's effects, possible side effects, and interactions with other drugs, alcohol, and foods.

 

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