HEATHER STAUFFER | Staff Writer
November 2, 2015 | Lancaster, PA – Two frustrated Lancaster County doctors are separately launching new family practices with an old-fashioned twist.
Instead of accepting insurance, they’re going to charge patients a monthly fee. In return, they promise unlimited visits with no copays.
“We’re looking for a way to kind of make medicine the way we envisioned it when we went to med school,” said Dr. Patrick Rohal.
So in January, he’s planning to open CovenantMD in East Hempfield Township with monthly fees ranging from $10 for children to $80 for seniors.
He anticipates offering: same or next-day visits of 30 to 60 minutes, in the office or at the patient’s home or work site; after-hours care for urgent and emergency issues; and 24/7 access via cell phone, text, email, or Skype.
He also plans “substantial cash pay discounts” on medications, lab work, and radiology.
Dr. Anthony Mastropietro, medical director of the sister hospitals Lancaster Regional Medical Center and Heart of Lancaster Regional Medical Center, recently started a similar independent practice in Lancaster city called Lancaster Personal Care Medicine.
Every doctor he knows spends as much time on paperwork as seeing patients, Mastropietro said. He thinks direct primary care offers “a revolutionary approach to dealing with the crisis that we have right now.”
Dr. Scott Shapiro, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, said there aren’t many direct primary care practices in Pennsylvania, but he’s aware of the concept and interested to see where it leads.
It’s also a throwback to the time when many physicians ran their own practices, said Shapiro. That dynamic has changed significantly over the past five years or so, he said, with roughly 70 percent of doctors now employed by health systems or large medical groups.