Oregon Health Regulatory Board Bans Groupons

MakenzieR on 2 Sep 2011 at 1:00pm

Oregonians may no longer find deals for dental or chiropractic services. Two health related regulatory boards in the state are asking their members to abstain from Groupon-type deals: The Oregon Board of Dentistry and the Board of Chiropractic Examiners. 

According to a press release from the OBCE, "Groupon type fee-splitting arrangements are still prohibited for chiropractic psysicians."  Rule 811-035-0015(24) states that unprofessional conduct includes "Splitting fees or giving or receiving a commission in the referral of patients for services."

The Board of Dentistry has "preliminarily determined" that these arrangements may violate an almost identical rule. They are advising their members to "proceed with caution." 

OBD Executive Director Patrick Braatz told RealSelf "If a dentist enters into a contract with an organization like Groupon, and the contract calls for a consumer to pay Groupon a fee and then Groupon keeps part of the fee and gives the dentists an amount of money and the name of a patient, this would be a violation of the Board’s rule and the licensee could be subject to disciplinary action by the Board."

So if dentists don't want risk their state license, they likely won't offer this type of deal. 

Groupon's biggest competitor, Living Social, has already changed their model for healthcare professionals to a flat-fee marketing program to bypass this conflict of interest.

For some, the fight against group-coupons isn't just about small print rules. 

"...The question is, what do schemes such as Groupon, where we would join restaurants, nail parlors and tanning salons...do to our credibility and how the public perceives us?" Arn Strasser, DC, said to the OBCE. "In my opinion, offering discounted services in a fee-splitting arrangement...undermines our credibility." 

Many RealSelf doctors share a similar opinion in their opposition to such offers. While Business Insider suggests this prohibition won't be a trend followed by every industry, it's likely to generate similar conversations in medical communities nationwide.  

We know it's hard to turn down a great deal, so remember to check out our Group-Coupon Tips the next time you're tempted to purchase a discounted medical treatment.  

The one that started it all in Oregon:

groupon banned in Oregon

Do you think medical practices should be allowed to offer group-coupons? Would you buy one, or have you already? 

Photo credits: Groupon -- lead image edited by EliseR