Shop Online for Your Next MRI

An Ohio physician is working with his peers and an online marketing firm to cut the cost of expensive diagnostic and laboratory tests so uninsured patients get the care they need.  Spearheading the effort is Dr. Doug Lefton of Fairlawn, OH, a former newspaper reporter turned physician.  After a story appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal highlighting the plight of these patients, Lefton was contacted by Tom Patton, CEO of PrePaidLab LLC, an Ohio online marketer of laboratory tests.  Coordinating with the Summit County Medical Society, Lefton made an arrangement with LabCorp., one of the nation’s largest testing companies, as well as with PrePaidLab.

The arrangement lets patients get their lab tests done for a fraction of the typical cost if they order them through the medical society’s website.  “These people that would ordinarily not be able to afford lab work are paying almost identical the amount the government pays for Medicaid,” Patton said.  “(The prices) are spectacularly low for something you can get on the market yourself.”  By way of example, a lipid panel test for cholesterol normally costs as much as $148 in Dr. Lefton’s practice area.  The same test costs just $18 via the website.  “It’s like using Amazon.com to buy your lab tests,” Lefton said.

Jeff Hughey, an Akron information systems technician – who has employer-paid healthcare insurance – used the online lab for a metabolic profile, a lipid panel and a hemoglobin test for blood sugar.  The three tests would cost him $400 if performed in a hospital diagnostics lab.  “Insurance doesn’t kick in until you have paid $2,000 out of pocket,” Hughey said.  “I just couldn’t afford $400 for three simple tests.”  Using PrePaidLab, the tests cost Hughey a total of $50.45, including a $9.50 service fee.  PrePaidLab created a physicians’ portal so patients who don’t have access to a computer or a credit card can order the tests and pay cash.

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