Under the traditional health insurance system, a large staff was required just to navigate all the paperwork, he said. That resulted in high overhead, forcing doctors like Nunamaker to take on more patients to cover costs. Plus, the amount insurance companies were willing to pay for procedures was declining, leading to a vicious cycle.
So Nunamaker and his partner set up a membership-based practice called Atlas M.D.
Under the membership plan — also known as “concierge” medicine — each patient pays a flat monthly fee to have unlimited access to the doctors and any service they can provide in the office, such as EKGs or stitches.
The fee varies depending on age. For kids, it’s $10 a month. For adults up to age 44, it’s $50 a month. Senior citizens pay $100.
The office has negotiated deals for services outside the office. By cutting out the middleman, Nunamaker said he can get a cholesterol test done for $3, versus the $90 the lab company he works with once billed to insurance carriers. An MRI can be had for $400, compared to a typical billed rate of $2,000 or more.
Nunamaker encourages his patients to carry some type of high-deductible health insurance plan in case of an emergency or serious illness. But for the everyday stuff, he said his plan works better for both doctor and patient.
Most of his clients are self-employed, small business owners, or employed at small firms that have found the monthly fee, combined with a high-deductible plan, a cheaper option than traditional insurance.
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