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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

More doctors switching to flat fee service

This move has been fairly popular in the Puget Sound area for many years -
Some doctors using flat-fee system

Posted on April 5, 2010 at 3:53 PM

Family physician Lee Adkins runs a unique practice.

"About three years ago, I found out there was an increase in missed appointments and when I talked to the patients, I found out many of them had lost their insurance," he said.

So Dr. Adkins set up a flat-fee system where patients pay $75 a month for a year.

"It's a very easy way to perform in the office," said Adkins.

Patients get 15 visits a year and access to all services, including blood tests, EKGs and pap smears.

Adkins says the flat-fee system has helped his bottom line.

"Last month, we were up 30 percent over last year," he said.

While it's difficult to track, one estimate reveals several hundred primary care physicians have begun to offer prepaid plans. Critics say some doctors who use flat-fee services are operating like insurance companies, without proper licensing. But Dr. Adkins says he's just offering patients a way to get care.

"If the doctors don't get active and do something, we'll have less qualified people making our decisions for us," he said.

Mike Scott lost his insurance when he lost his job. Thanks to Dr. Adkins, his health isn't suffering.

"It offered an opportunity to recheck for my diabetes, to keep it in control, and that's what I wanted to be able to do," said Scott.

Kim Turano also used to have insurance. When she lost it, her health took a back seat.

"What this program allows is for me to get the care that I had been ignoring in the past," she said.

Dr. Adkins says the flat-fee approach saves him money by eliminating administrative costs that come from dealing with insurance companies.

Locally, Qliance offers a similar approach, charging a monthly fee and bypassing insurance.

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