OKCopay hopes to carve niche within pricing transparency for non-covered services

While dozens of companies and organizations are working to increase pricing transparency in healthcare, OKCopay has reemerged to address pricing in the often-opaque worlds of dental billing, cosmetic surgeries or vision wear. Those areas are typically either separate from health insurance or not subject to the same scrutiny as areas of care that fall under […]

While dozens of companies and organizations are working to increase pricing transparency in healthcare, OKCopay has reemerged to address pricing in the often-opaque worlds of dental billing, cosmetic surgeries or vision wear.

Those areas are typically either separate from health insurance or not subject to the same scrutiny as areas of care that fall under the oversight of Obamacare’s essential health benefits, often leaving consumers on the hook for arbitrary pricing or straight cash payments. Or, a consumer may have no coverage at all for dental or vision, making transparency all the more appealing. Most transparency efforts have centered on more traditional areas of care, like hospital visits or primary care.

The Seattle-based startup, founded in 2011, recently relaunched itself after working to improve its interface and adding reviews for physicians, according to founder and CEO J. Touré McCluskey.

The bootstrapped company, currently consisting of McCluskey and CTO Raj Mukta Sundaram, has evolved from “essentially a price list that was available in nine cities,” McCluskey said. Started in 2011, it has since added user reviews and other features.

“ In our newest version we improved our interface, added user reviews (via Yelp), added search filters, and built a ‘ValueScore’ rating system that compares doctors on their ‘bang for your buck,’” he told MedCity News via email. “We also added seven more cities to bring the total to 16. So our offering is much more comprehensive than before. The model is still the same.”

The service is free to users and is free for basic listings of doctors and dentists. OKCopay monetizes that by selling “enhanced listings” to providers who want to stand out, he added.

The company gathers its pricing information and research by simply calling and asking providers directly, along with a small portion of crowd-sourced prices from consumers.

“While its tedious, we’ve found this is by far the most accurate approach for us, especially because we publish actual ‘cash-prices’ not chargemaster rates.,” McCluskey said. “We also have doctors reaching out to us and sharing their prices.”

OKCopay said it currently has more than 150,000 prices listed from 40,000 providers, listed in more than 2,000 U.S. Cities. McCulskey didn’t reveal how many users the site has, noting that is just recently added the nine new cities and it’s too soon to say just yet.

In 2012, the startup won a fellowship from Echoing Green and last fall is raised a small round of $100,000 from an angel investor.

“You can expect us to raise another round this spring,” he said.