Eric D. Fader, Partner, Rivkin Radler
The online appointment booking service Zocdoc has received a favorable Advisory Opinion from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) confirming that Zocdoc’s new per-click or per-booking fee model does not violate the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS). Without AKS concerns, Zocdoc may now allow Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal healthcare program beneficiaries to book appointments on its website in states where the company has implemented the new pricing model.
When released publicly, OIG Advisory Opinions have companies’ identifying information redacted, but Zocdoc’s founder and CEO, Oliver Kharraz, M.D., discussed the opinion in a blog post. Each Advisory Opinion is specific to the requestor and states that it cannot be relied on by any other party, but other online appointment-booking services and similar services should now have increased confidence that they will not be deemed to be in violation of the AKS if they replicate Zocdoc’s pricing structure.
Founded in 2007, Zocdoc began changing its charges to healthcare providers in 2018, on a state-by-state basis, from fixed monthly fees to the per-booking fees that raised AKS concerns.