Imagine going to a doctor’s office and having your visit start at the appointed time, without having to fill out insurance-related forms before the doctor can see you.
Imagine a doctor you can communicate with anytime outside doctors’ hours. Imagine a medical practice that doesn’t take insurance.
That is the premise of Platte Medical, a clinic that will open Aug. 3 with the goal to “make medical care personal and convenient, two things that are sorely lacking from today’s modern medical system,” in the words of its board certified family practice physician, Brian Sachs, M.D.
“Medicine is getting to the point where it’s not worth practicing, where health care is under the direction of an insurance company or the government,” said Sachs, whose post-residency practice was at Southwest Health in Platteville. “There are so many things where an insurance company and the government tell me what I can and cannot do.”
After the $100 registration fee, memberships cost $50 per month for adults 20–39, $75 per month for adults 40–64, and $95 per month for adults 65 and older. Child fees are $10 per month with a paid adult membership, or $50 per month without an adult membership. Home calls are available for $50. Patients are accepted regardless of preexisting conditions.
“You pay a monthly fee, like your cable bill or your Netflix bill, and then you have access to me,” said Sachs, a Sun Prairie native who graduated from UW–Madison and got his medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada. “It’s like a gym membership — you use me as much as you need me.”
The clinic will offer discounted prescriptions, lab tests and X-rays.
Sachs handles all aspects of family medicine except obstetrics. Sachs will refer patients who need specialized care to specialists.
The no-insurance clinic has tripled in number in the past three years. “It’s pretty much popular everywhere else other than the Midwest,” said Sachs. “Money and tradition — that’s why. They’re just used to their insurer handling everything.
“The thought in America right now is health care is synonymous with health insurance, and they’re very different. So it’s a lot of education on my part. I use the phrase ‘old-time country doctor’ to tell them what it’ll feel like to my patients.”
Without insurance paying, or dealing with insurers, “Now I can do everything else for the benefit of the patient,” he said. “It is impressive how affordable physical care can be when insurance isn’t in position.”
Besides “spending time with patients,” Sachs enjoys dealing with care to prevent diabetes and cardiology.
Sachs has about 50 patients signed up now, with a goal of 500, which he said is “75 percent fewer patients a family practice doctor will typically take on. What I would like to do is eventually bring in a physician and grow a small practice where we can cover for each other,” he said.
“One of the main concerns I hear is if you’re going to be on call all the time, aren’t you going to get a lot of calls? Because I get to spend more time with patients all the while the ‘ifs’ are assured and there isn’t that rush.”
Without having to deal with insurance, said Sachs, “My overhead goes from 75 percent to 25 percent.” He said dealing with government and insurance causes more burnout among physicians than patient care does.
Sachs is not recommending his patients discontinue their health insurance.
“I want all my patients to have insurance, and probably it would be beneficial for most patients to go to a high-deductible catastrophic plan,” he said.
Even though he is leaving Southwest Health to strike out on his own, said Sachs, “There’s no animosity; they’ve actually been supportive in as neutral a way as can be.”
Being the first direct primary care clinic in the area, said Sachs, “there are a lot of eyes on me right now. They’re very interested to see if I sink or swim.”
Sachs will hold a public information meeting in the Municipal Building in Platteville Thursday, Aug. 6 at 7 p.m. More information on the clinic is available at www.plattemedical.com.