You can go online and shop for discounted cars and hotels, so why not do the same thing if you need an operation? A company called MediBid is allowing patients to do just that.

Doctors prep for surgery
Roy Ritchie, Getty Images

"After a patient logs on and describes what kind of an operation or care they need, it is sent out electronically to doctors in your city, in your state, in other states around the country and even overseas," said MediBid CEO Ralph Weber. "The patient will get bids from the participating doctors, usually within a day or so they'll start getting some bids in."

Weber said some patients using the service have no insurance, while others who do may have a high deductible, but everybody saves money.

"If you just went to a hospital to get a knee replacement, it might cost around $75,000, but we're getting knee replacements in the U.S. for between $12 and $18,000," Weber said, "and we're getting them overseas for as low as $7,000."

But how do you know the doctors are on the level?

When a doctor signs up for MediBid, Weber said, they're required to provide their medical license number and their board certifications.

"We will look them up to make sure they're licensed and in good standing," Weber said.

According to Weber, physicians already like the service.

"They get to set their own prices instead of work for what the insurance company says they're worth," Weber said, "and they get paid at the time of service instead of billing an insurance company, then re-billing them and then waiting to get the money."

Weber said, however, that this is not for emergency situations.

"If you're having a heart attack, then 911 is your solution," Weber said.

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