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How to get the health care your family needs without spending a fortune

Health & Fitness

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“Affordable and personal” is not how you would describe the typical doctor’s office these days. But what if that could change?

The increasingly popular membership-based model seeks to create a meaningful relationship between patients and clinic staff, establish trust, personalize medical care, and provide affordable treatment.

Year after year, health care costs have risen anywhere from 15 to 30 percent. Due to increasing health insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles, many families can no longer afford basic health insurance.

“Recent studies have indicated that American adults receive recommended care only about 55 perfect of the time … (and) 30 percent of health care spending is wasteful and produces no value to the patient,” the National Quality Forum says.

Locally, Sterling Urgent Care solves this problem through the membership-based model, says CEO Scott Brown.

For $50 per month, one person has unlimited access to all of their facilities. For a family of four, that cost is $100, with every additional family member being $10.

With membership comes unlimited visits.

You could, hypothetically, visit the clinic 30 days in a row, see a medical provider, and never have to pay anything beyond your monthly membership fee for those visits.

The fixed fee covers office visits, case management, as well as telemedicine. Additional services such as labs and X-rays are $15. They also have an in-house pharmacy, in which patients are able to walk out with a prescription for $10.

The medical clinic is owned, collectively, by a group of about 20 various business owners. They also have more than 130 employers using their model to drive down health care costs for their organization, as well as their employees.

RELATED | Two local health clinics providing innovative cost-savings options for patients

More benefits of membership-based clinics

With membership-based clinics, the cost doesn’t hold people back from going to the doctor as often, and patients are more likely to address health issues as they arise.

In addition to lower health costs, another benefit of membership-clinics is more one-on-one time between physician and patient as the doctors deal with less paperwork and the patient is more involved in health care decisions.

“What we are seeing in some areas is the emergence of direct contracting practices where you cut out the middleman and pay directly to the medical practice,” said Glen Stream, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “The practice gets the advantage of predictable payments, and the patient gets a much more active role in purchasing health care services.”

Predictability for all involved can go a long way.

“I almost cried because it was so incredibly transparent because I knew exactly how much I was going to be paying,” said a two-time cancer survivor who visited a membership-clinic.