August 11, 2013 12:01 am • By TONY REID – H&R Staff Writer
DECATUR, IL — Two doctors are launching a new family practice in Decatur with a radically different prescription for delivering health care and getting their bills paid.
Priority Health Family Medicine drops the traditional fee-for-service model and Dr. Timothy Miller and his business partner, Dr. Kristin Newcome, will not charge for office visits or bill insurance. Instead, patients will pay a membership fee that buys them “24/7, 365-day” access to the doctor’s office or their physician.
The doctors say dispensing with the fee-for-service model frees them to spend more time with each patient and gives patient easier access to preventive care without worrying about financial headaches such as co-pays and deductibles.
This style of medicine, known as a “concierge” practice, is still small nationwide but growing. There were about 4,500 such physicians coast to coast in 2012 and that number has jumped 30 percent in the past year. While there are few other examples of concierge medicine in this area outside of the new Decatur practice, a major conference to promote this style of care is scheduled in St. Louis for October. It’s called the Direct Primary Care Conference and “physicians, purchasers, payers, researchers, investors, suppliers, policymakers” have been invited to attend to find out how a concierge practice works.
Priority Health Family Medicine will work with a varying fee schedule that starts out at $110 monthly for an individual and rises to $220 a month for a family of four or $238 for a family of five or more; patients will sign a 12-month contract and a sliding series of discounts offer up to 9 percent off the total price for those who pay the yearly fee all at once. Discounts of 4.5 percent and 2.3 percent reward patients who pay semiannually or quarterly.
Miller and Newcome are currently family practitioners with the DMH Medical Group and will leave to open their new practice by early October in remodeled offices at 5160 Hickory Point Frontage Road. The doctors have sent their existing DMH patients notices of their leaving, and those patients get first shot at securing a place at Priority Health Family Medicine. The rolls will then be opened up to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.
The doctors expect they will limit their numbers to about 700 patients each; they say that contrasts with traditional practices where a doctor might have 3,000 patients on their books.