Oct 7 2013

Is Your Obstetrician Being Paid to Recommend A Cord Blood Bank?

Posted by Martin Smithmyer

There are state laws that indicate that an OBGYN must tell their patient about cord blood banking at a certain point in their pregnancy. Because of this and other reasons, many private cord blood banks pay OBGYNs and Obstetricians to recommend a cord blood bank to expectant parents seeking more information on cord blood banking.

The Physician Payments Sunshine Act

The Physician Payments Sunshine Act, beginning August 1, 2013, is meant to address payments made to doctors by companies to promote their products or services on their behalf. This act, unfortunately, does not appear to apply to private cord blood banks. The act is specifically addressing companies participating in US federal health care programs, and most private cord blood banks do not participate in these programs.

Americord’s Ethics

At Americord we have taken a strong ethical stance against paying off doctors to earn business. While some of our competitors allegedly engage in this activity which we believe to be highly unethical and borderline illegal, we do not. There are a number of issues with paying doctors for referrals.

First, we believe that it undermines the ability for a parent to make the right decision about cord blood banking. For some families, the cost of cord blood banking may not be something they can afford and while we have worked very hard to make cord blood banking as affordable as possible we are well aware that it is not cheap.

Second, it makes cord blood banking more expensive. The cost of marketing to doctors and paying to have inventory stored around the country is one of the main reasons why our competitors cost twice as much as we do.

Third, the fact that doctors are paid to sell cord blood banking for certain companies hurts the legitimacy of our industry. It prevents parents from making a fair and balanced choice about which company is best for them and ultimately reflects poorly on the entire industry.

So what should you do?

Look carefully at how your cord blood bank markets their service:

1)    Seek out cord blood banking companies that state explicitly, in writing, that they do not compensate doctors.

2)    Clarify with your doctor why he/she might be recommending just one cord blood bank to you over the others.

3)    Compare the price, including storage fees, and if it seems unreasonably higher than other cord blood banks, it is probably a safe bet that a majority of the price is being used in marketing efforts, and not in providing a higher level of service to you.

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