The People Behind the Issues: Why We Created MDsave


Healthcare shouldn’t cost more than housing.

Healthcare is being thrown around the political arena like a buzzword hot potato. When all of the challenges facing the health of Americans are lumped together into one single debate topic, Healthcare with a capital H, it can be easy to lose sight of the millions of real people behind the issue facing financial and medical distress.

NPR’s recent Politics in Real Life article, Rising Health Care Costs Weigh on Voters, struck a chord with us because it brings the focus back to individual patient stories like the ones that inspired us to create MDsave.

“When [health care] became…more than my housing costs, it upset me.”

Renee Powell is an Oklahoma epidemiologist who, even though her family is insured through the state insurance exchange, has to pay a deductible of more than $13,000 out-of-pocket before insurance picks up any medical expenses besides basic preventive care. This year, Renee reports that her insurance has paid a few dollars for antibiotics prescribed to one of her sons, while her family has paid out $4,400 in premiums.

“I don’t think marriage should be an economic choice.”

Melody Simon is a Detroit biomedical research project manager with insurance through her employer, which offers a low $1,000 deductible in-network and reasonably priced co-pays. But after a move, Melody found that most of her in-network providers were over an hour away, and it was hard to find local providers who accepted her insurance and could handle her condition. In the end, she found herself faced with surprise costs and out on disability after a poor recovery from surgery in December. Melody and her partner have decided to get married so Melody will be covered by her partner’s insurance.

Why we created MDsave

Cases of Americans spending more than they should – or more than they can – on health care are sadly becoming more and more common, and the American people are shouldering the burden of greater out-of-pocket costs whether or not they have insurance. In 2012, the year we created MDsave, we saw a huge need in the market for a solution that helped healthcare consumers like Renee and Melody shop for better value on cash-pay procedures without any surprise costs showing up later.

We realized patients wanted transparent prices and comprehensive products, rather than the piecemeal, after-the-fact billing traditionally used in health care. Our solution would need to offer up-front pricing on fully bundled procedures that included all costs and fees. We also recognized an opportunity to work directly with providers, which would ensure timely reimbursement, ease their administrative burden and reduce collection fees in their practices. Helping doctors helps patients – by reducing the amount of legwork it takes to get doctors paid, we were able to pre-negotiate savings that we can pass on to the consumer.

The MDsave marketplace: fair pricing, transparency, and value-based care

Enter the MDsave online marketplace. Patients can search local providers in their area, see the procedure cost up-front, and pay for the entire episode of care through the secure marketplace – much like booking a flight online. In many cases we can offer significant savings compared to national averages, but in all cases we provide straightforward pricing that includes every aspect of a procedure, from labs to facility fees, with trusted local providers.

At MDsave, we believe price transparency is vital to enabling a value-based system to thrive. When prices are honest, open, and bundled to prevent surprise bills, patients can make informed decisions about where to purchase their care, and that encourages providers to keep quality high and prices competitive. The MDsave marketplace gives patients the information they need to be informed healthcare consumers.

We all use healthcare, and everyone is a patient at some point. When we built MDsave, we built the healthcare marketplace that we would want to use, too.