Flat-Fee Medicine

March 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
According to the CDC, more than 43 million Americans are uninsured and a recent Harvard study shows 45,000 Americans die every year partly because they lack health insurance.While the country waits for health care reform and a solution, some doctors are taking your health into their own hands by offering an alternative.

It looks like any old doctor's office, but H. Lee Adkins runs a unique practice.

"About three years ago," H. Lee Adkins, D.O., Family Physician Geriatrics at Fort Myers Family Medicine told Ivanhoe. "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."

Instead of turning his back, Adkins set up a flat-fee system where patients pay 75 dollars a month for a year.

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

Patients get 15 visits a year and access to all services, including blood tests, EKG's and pap smears. Adkins says 30 percent of his patients are on the self-pay system. It's helped his bottom line.

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

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

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

Mike Scott lost his insurance when he lost his job. A diabetic, he found an affordable doctor in Adkins.

"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," Scott explained.

Like so many Americans, Kim Turano 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," Turano said.

And peace of mind, knowing that her health is again a priority. Dr. Adkins says the flat-fee approach saves him money by eliminating administrative costs that come from dealing with insurance companies. He also offers an a la carte system for patients who don't want to or can't pay 75 dollars a month. These patients come in and pay per visit, per blood test or per service needed. Prices of those services are listed on his web site and range from 10 dollars for a blood test to check for colon cancer to 103 dollars to test for HPV.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Fort Myers Family Medicine CyberClinic
http://www.fortmyersfamilymedicine.com
(239) 433-4014


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