Groupon: Should Plastic Surgeons Participate In These Types of Bargains?
- Posted on: Sep 1 2011
Have you ever considered using Groupon for plastic surgery services? I have heard quite a few rumblings in the plastic surgeon community about certain ‘bargain-basement’ clinics and price-cutting docs using Groupon as a way to attract new patients into their practices. I’ve found the overwhelming majority of opinion in regards to Groupon and plastic surgery is that the two should not mingle, for ethical, financial, and other reasons.
Dr. Rob Oliver of Plastic Surgery 101 shares his opinion, partially reprinted here:
Services like Groupon offer heavily discounted goods and services to people who buy the “deal of the day” through Groupon. They then collect the money and keep a large percentage of the fee, passing the rest to the merchant.
In aesthetic medicine, we see more and more of such deals from Botox and laser treatments for hair removal, skin tightening, and body contouring. I see these offers and am boggled at what these clinics and spas are thinking. You cannot stay in business offering services for less then cost, and it is clear that patients who shop through Groupon will always be price shoppers rather then repeat clients.
A new wrinkle (no pun intended) has been the examination of such a relationship in the context of restrictions of what’s known as “fee splitting”. These types oflaws prohibit the offer, solicitation, payment or receipt of anything of value, direct or indirect, overt or covert, in cash or in kind, intended to induce referral of patient for items or services reimbursed. The language of such laws vary by state, but the spirit of most of them would seem to be at odds with the Groupon model. A number of experts are concluding that such programs, by virtue of their “per unit” fee model, violates such federal rules and many states medical board rules (see here and here) and are advising providers to tread carefully.
For more of Dr. Oliver’s post, click here.
Posted in: Plastic Surgery News