By Katie Wiedemann, Reporter
May 20, 2013 – DUBUQUE, IO – A Dubuque medical center has become the first Direct Pay clinic in Iowa. Some patients are calling it a “revolutionary” approach to health care. Instead of paying a deductible through health insurance, patients pay a monthly fee.
After working more than 20 years in the health care industry, Kelly McMahon, A.R.N.P got sick of watching patients skip out on treatment because they couldn’t afford it.
McMahon said, “Either patients having real high health insurance deductibles or no insurance or they’re un-insurable people who have pre existing conditions. ”
McMahon, recently launched the affordable health care program at her clinic, Women’s Wellness and West Side Family Medicine.
“Patients can pay the monthly fee,” said McMahon. “It’s more like a health club membership. ”
Doctors and nurses at Women’s Wellness and West Side Family Medicine provide primary and preventative health care, treating coughs and colds and giving physicals. But it also includes mental health care.
McMahon said, “We feel strongly that mental health is part of your primary health and everybody can use some counseling and mental health care from time to time in their lives. ”
McMahon is following a trend. Right now there are more than 4400 direct care providers in the United States. That’s up 30 percent in the last year.
“Hopefully we’ll keep them out of the emergency room. Hopefully we will keep them out of trouble. If they have something that is brewing we can take care of it. ”
Direct Pay does come with a price tag. It costs about $100 to enroll, then each month patients pay anywhere between $60 and $85.
The clinic requires a monthly payment even if the patient didn’t see a doctor that month.