LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Could a Crestwood doctor's office be the future of healthcare?
Some suggest it may be part of the solution to solving the country's debate over care and insurance.
Bluegrass Family Wellness in Crestwood, Kentucky hosted a healthcare roundtable Monday with Senator Rand Paul today that involved a discussion on their model of Direct Primary Care.
Instead of billing insurance, patients pay a monthly fee that covers nearly everything and doctors say it opens the door for them to help negotiate down prices patients pay to specialists if a specialist is needed.
Senator Rand Paul took in the stories from the office in Crestwood of Doctor Molly Rutherford who said she was inspired to start to this family practice 2 years ago after getting frustrated by the direction of the healthcare industry.
"We want to change the conversation, especially in DC,” Dr. Rutherford explained. “They keep talking about coverage which the real problem is the cost of healthcare and expanding coverage by the ACA has not changed that.”
Doctor Rutherford says she's not "slamming" the Affordable Care Act known as "Obamacare" but she insists that changes in the health care law have not improved the actual care Americans receive.
She and the other doctors opened this Direct Primary Care office that involves a flat fee from $10 for children to $50, $75 or $100 per month for an adult depending upon their age. Patients, not an insurance company pays. There are allotted monthly visits, potential home visits, some emergency care and some labs are covered.
They also have a pharmacy that can dispense medications except controlled substances for pennies on the dollar.
If a specialist is needed, doctors refer patients and can help negotiate down the out of pocket prices for the specialty treatments.
“I think we need innovations and we need to think outside the box and what we heard today was an innovation," Senator Paul said.
During the roundtable patients and doctors described the price conscious model they claim also allows for a relationship with the physician that can improve quality of care.
One woman told Senator Paul, “I pay less than $1,500 a year to have a physician 24/7 and to be able to get in to see her when I need to.”
Doctor Rutherford explained that working in a traditional setting found her facing deadlines imposed by administrators focused on billing insurance.
Deadlines that says prevents relationships with patients that can reveal vital information and deliver better health outcomes.
"I was disappointed when I started to become a physician and I only had 5 to 7 minutes to spend with a patient because I was employed by someone who was telling me you need to see 25-30 patients a day in order to basically earn your salary," Dr. Rutherford said.