Consumer

ConsumerWatch: Using Daily Deal Sites For Healthcare Services

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A doctor consults with a patient inside an exam room. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — Daily deal sites such as Groupon, LivingSocial and Gilt are giving the uninsured and underinsured a chance to afford health care services.

The last time Carly Geehr went to the dentist was nearly a year ago. “I just started working at a small startup where we don’t have dental insurance,” she said.

But rather than buying her own dental coverage, Geehr discovered a deal on LivingSocial. A full dental exam, plus teeth cleaning and x-rays for $59, nearly a $300 savings.

Daily deal sites are offering more than dental visits. Dr. Julie Orman, a chiropractor, recently offered a $25 LivingSocial deal for care. “I wanted to make this more available to people who normally can’t afford to come in,” she said.

According to Orman she gives LivingSocial 50 percent of every deal she sells. Despite the cost, Orman said it’s a good way to advertise her business. “It’s sort of a win, win, win for everybody,” she said.

Don’t expect to find deals on major surgery, though. Doctors mainly offer discount for elective services such as eye exams, LASIK eye surgery and even plastic surgery.

“They’re targeting new patients, usually patients who are fairly you and health who probably have money but don’t have insurance,” said heath care business consultant David Williams.

According to Williams, it’s also a buyer beware market.

“I would be careful about the upselling and I would also be worried that a dentist once they have you in the office may find some kind of problem,” he said.

Geehr said she had no problem with Dentist Dr. Ala Din of Palo Alto. “This was really a happy median,” she said. “I could afford to pay out of pocket.” According to Williams, daily deal sites generally check if a doctor or a practitioner is licensed. But he said consumers should always check online ratings and reviews before buying a deal.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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