Page Reviewed / Updated – November 16, 2010

Definition: Reverse Auctions

When individuals must pay out-of-pocket for home or durable medical equipment (DME), one method to obtain the item new at very low cost is by participating in a reverse auction. A reverse auction starts with an individual simply stating the item(s) they wish to purchase. Suppliers review this information and compete against each other by offering the lowest price they are willing to accept for the item. Historically, reverse auctions reduce purchase prices by 20% over purchasing items directly from suppliers. With expensive medical equipment, this can amount to $100s and even $1000s of dollars in saving.

Reverse auctions reduce purchase prices by 20% over purchasing items directly from suppliers.

Medzooka’s Reverse Auction Process

Medzooka has built a reverse auction specifically for durable and home medical equipment and supplies. Their process works as follows:

1) Users tell Medzooka the durable medical equipment or supplies they are looking to purchase either through their website or by calling a toll-free number.

2) Medzooka communicates the request to suppliers of the item(s) and within 24 hours, they receive responses from the suppliers that include the lowest price for which they are willing to sell the item(s), their delivery timeframe and any other specific terms. Their price includes all taxes, shipping charges and any other fees should they exist.

3) The buyer is free to choose the lowest price offer or any of the other offers if the delivery timeframe is more appropriate for their needs. They also have the option to refuse all the offers, therefore there is no risk involved for the buyer.

4) If they choose to purchase, Medzooka processes the transaction to protect the buyer if there is a problem with the item. Purchasing through Medzooka does not impact the seller’s standard return policies; it is no different than buying from the supplier directly except there is an added level of buyer protection.

5) The supplier delivers the item to the buyer according to the agreed upon timeframe.

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Medicare and Other Insurance

At present, Medzooka is designed for the out-of-pocket purchase of durable medical equipment and supplies. Elderly or disabled Medicare beneficiaries are not able to ensure their suppliers are Medicare approved. This does not mean that persons using insurance can’t use the marketplace, only that Medzooka doesn’t handle the billing of insurance companies. Therefore individuals are required to spend out-of-pocket and then file a claim with their insurance companies for reimbursement. It is worth noting that since these costs are out-of-pocket, if they are not reimbursed by insurance, then the complete purchase price is tax deductible.

Medzooka is particularly cost effective for individuals with Medicare who are purchasing home medical supplies since there is a long list of medical supplies that Medicare doesn’t cover.