GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The rising cost of health care in the U.S. is creating a big debt -- $88 billion to be exact. Many Americans skip doctor's visit or a prescription refill, because they just can't afford it.
But there might just be a glimmer of hope: a new trend in health care that doesn't use insurance and passes that savings on to you.
During her 10 years in the service industry, Arielle Clark has been hit and miss with health insurance, “It is very scary. It's terrifying. Longest chunk of time was about 2 years."
But, why did Clark go so long without health insurance? "I went from having very pristine insurance to paying almost $200 a month for nothing," Clark said.
High deductibles, expensive office visits and physicians who didn't have a lot of time to spend with her felt her feeling jilted, “They didn't care what I needed -- they just cared about what would be the easiest to get me out of there."
If that sounds familiar, that's because it is. According to a Gallup poll 79% of Americans are dissatisfied with their health care and its cost. It's one of the reasons why Dr. Belen Amat started a Direct Physician Care of West Michigan practice.
"Patients pay a monthly membership with that they have all the office visits they need, access to discounted medications and labs and imaging," Dr. Amat explained. "So, medications are 95% discounted from what they can get in the pharmacy. Labs the same thing."
No insurance required.
“So, I don't participate in any health insurance. And it makes it very simple. They pay me directly, so I respond to them. I've had people come to meet me because they wanted to make sure it was real," Dr. Amat continued.
Dr. Amat's pricing gives you unlimited access to her and not just through appointments, making it much more efficient, "Patients can text me directly and I just answer, it's all done."
Dr. Amat says patients also get discount pricing on prescriptions and lab work, because they pay cash. In some cases, Dr. Amat can even dispenses common prescriptions like blood pressure or antibiotics for practically pennies, "It's very open -- I tell patients this is what it your medication costs. Your medication is 50 cents. It's 50 cents, that's what it is. I don't make a lot of money on that. It's good for you."
Through this system, Dr. Amat can really get to know her patients, "When I was in the insurance world visits are usually 15 minutes maybe a half hour if it's a new patient." Direct Physicians Care practice allows her to spend quality time with her patients, "I get to know them really well -- we talk about their families, where they're from and what their goals are. What I want is for you to stay long-term with me. To become a family thing. Like it used to be."
It's what attracted Clark to become a patient of Dr. Amat's, "Within 5 seconds of our conversation I was like this is exactly what I've been looking for this is exactly what I need."
Clark said it sounded to good to be true, "At first I didn't believe it. A co-op style like that just doesn't seem like it exists in the real world. I think this is the future of healthcare."
There is a downside to subscription-based health care. You would need to carry catastrophic health insurance because subscription health care does not cover emergencies like broken legs, appendectomies or heart attacks.
This trend in subscription health care -- where you pay a monthly fee for general health care -- is growing. According the Direct Primary Trends report it's up 67% since last year.
If you’d like to check out how to compare drug prices at pharmacies you can go to goodrx.com.
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