Craigslist for Kidney Transplants?
In 1999, a Florida resident made headlines by attempting to sell a kidney on eBay. The bidding reached $5.7M before the site removed the listing, but the event spawned a lot of social debate about medical ethics and whether a “highest bidder” mentality was appropriate for healthcare.
As of January 2011, at least one medical auction website has launched, not for kidneys, but for kidney transplants and other medical care and procedures paid for on a cash basis. According to information on its website, “FairCareMD™ lets Patients and Doctors contract for specific services offered or requested at a mutually agreed upon price”:
“FairCareMD™ is free for Patients. Patients can find or request the care they need at a price that is fair. After a deal is made, the DoneDeal acts as a contract for services with your Doctor. On FairCareMD™, Doctors and medical facilities list their services, select from the requests that are made, and acquire new patients willing to pay a fair price for their services. Our platform simplifies and automates this process, reducing the cost of delivering care too.”
FairCareMD™’s Chief Marketing Officer Simon Sikorski appears to be actively recruiting employees within medical professional groups of the LinkedIn career social media website, and has posted that, “In January we’d like to hire at least 150 representatives, distributors, managers, and area directors…In the first 3 weeks we signed up 3 hospitals and more than 800 physicians through the work of 15 people. In the last week of December 2010 we hired 50 sales representatives, distributors, and affiliate marketers.”
While it is true that people who walk into a doctor’s office paying cash are often charged exponentially more than large insurers for the same exact services, and that many doctors complain of being forced to accept lower fees and slow payments from some insurance companies, it remains to be seen what role a cash Internet marketplace could play in the moving target of healthcare reform. One also wonders whether the decision to pay more to “Buy It Now,” rather than waiting “12d 0h 12m” to see if your bid is accepted, is significantly different from where healthcare under a government-run system may already evolve!