Website helps patients shop for a discount doctor - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Website helps patients shop for a discount doctor

(NBC) - Almost everyone wants to cut their medical costs, and now it could be as simple as doing a little research and changing the way you pay.

April Schauer went more than 10 years without a visit to the dentist.  She thought she couldn't afford to get the fillings and whitening she needed. 

"My husband is in the Army, and they cover his dental but they don't cover mine," Schauer said.

She found her way to dentist Becky Coats via the internet, where she found a website that let her search for lower prices if she agreed to pay in cash. 

The site is called is pricedoc.com. You can search anything from a dentist to a physician to a chiropractor. Typical users are uninsured, underinsured or looking for elective procedures.  You can use the site to research healthcare providers who list reduced prices for procedures paid for in cash.  You can also submit bids to multiple providers.

Dr. Becky Coats is a dentist who uses the site.

"I think this is a good website for people that are cash patients, that are in between and also gives them alternatives and lets them know what offices are willing to meet their needs, and maybe give them a little bit of a discount," Coats explained.

Dr. Charles Wallace, a plastic surgeon, said negotiating is not a new thing for his specialty. 

"We've always quoted cash prices," Wallace said. "Or self-pay prices for our procedures because they've never been covered by insurance."

But he thinks this website might make it easier for potential patients to figure it all out.

"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."

Pricedoc.com began its pilot program about a year ago in Seattle.  There are currently more than 2,000 providers posting cash prices for medical and dental procedures.

Copyright 2010 NBC News. All rights reserved.

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