Journalist-turned-doctor combats high lab prices

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

On CNN’s Health page, Jim Kavanagh profiled Dr. Doug Lefton, a man who has gone from newspaper reporter to physician to entrepreneur on the front lines of the war against high medical bills.

Frustrated that high costs were keeping his patients from following through with basic blood tests, Lefton brought attention to the issue with the help of the Akron Beacon Journal, then teamed up with online marketer called PrePaidLab, a lab test provider named LabCorp and other physicians to create a cheap, national source of lab tests. Thanks to the site, a lipid panel that might cost a patient $148 at a hospital can be had for $18 online. Patients take their sample to a local outlet, then often get the results in less than 24 hours.

LabCorp agreed to accept the lower charges in exchange for the increased volume it expected to gain, PrePaid’s Patton said.
“The only subsidy is out of our end,” he said. “We just gave them a lower fee schedule. Believe me, the margins are very, very low. But it’s for a good cause.”
Lefton was adamant that the program be set up strictly for the benefit of patients.
“Doug’s kind of a different guy,” Patton said. “He made it a point this was going to be his program, no doctors were going to make any money off of it, and that’s it.”

Leave a Reply