Think for a moment about what things you consider when deciding whether or not you really need to visit your doctor. Convenience is a factor, obviously – because few of us have time to wait until ten-thirty for an appointment that was scheduled for nine, but cost is important as well. Cost, in fact, may be the most important factor in medical care when you don’t have insurance.
It is for just this reason that an Oklahoma-based medical company has been trying something new to help insured people who want to save money on basic procedures and people who are uninsured.
The company is Access Medical, and it operates clinics in Tulsa and Catoosa, but these aren’t your typical doc-in-a-box kinds of clinics. Instead, they’re open to anyone who pays a monthly fee – $25 for a single person, or a family of two, and $35 for a family of three or more, with a one-time setup fee of $25. The catch, of course, is that the monthly fee must be paid whether or not you see a doctor in that month. The fees add up, of course, but they’re not meant to be profit. Instead, they create a pool of funds used to help cover the cost of medical care for all the clinic members.
So how much does it cost to visit one of these clinics? The average fee is a very reasonable $50, but often it’s less.
Why create such a system? The owner of Access Medical, Cannon Ferrell, told local press that he was proud to offer this service to the many families who are in need of reasonably-priced medical care.
Ferrell opened his company about a year and a half ago, and has roughly 350 members so far, most of whom are either retired people who are too young for Medicare or owners and employees of businesses too small to offer health coverage as a company benefit.
Access Medical’s patients seem pretty happy with the system. Most stay that the wait for a doctor is never long, and that the level of care is good. Most would even recommend Access to others, even if they have insurance.
Typical medical issues handled by the Access Medical clinics include routine things like allergies and routine checkups, but more acute illnesses are treated as well, and for families on a budget having the clinic is a significant savings over the average emergency room trip, which generally costs a minimum of $400, just for walking in the door.
Qualifying for membership in an Access Medical clinic is easy: one person in the family must have an active checking account and a job. As the face of insurance continues to change, it is companies like Access Medical that are on the leading edge of the new trend toward not just patient centered, but patient funded medical care.