When describing how he felt compelled to provide high value/affordable care to patients, Dr. Josh Umbehr sums it up this way, 'I was young and dumb.'
He actually isn't dumb at all but was making a point that he had no interest in getting bogged down with the minutia of heavy paperwork, wasting time dealing with insurance companies that dictate the kind of care a patient receives and how they will pay for such care.
Dr. Umbehr, a family medicine physician, saw right from the start that there is a better way to provide meaningful care that his patients would appreciate. This is how he and his business partner, Doug Nunamaker, MD started Atlas.MD.
Access to Your Doctor...Anytime
Dr. Umbehr believes the best way to be there for his patients is to have a close, direct relationship with them. Atlas.MD provides a membership fee plan that gives patients 24/7 access to go over their health concerns.
As Dr. Umbehr likes to describe, it's like comparing Netflix to Blockbuster. Whereas a customer had to travel to a Blockbuster to pay about $4 to $7 dollars for a couple of rentals at a time, Netflix forced a paradigm shift by offering 1,000's if not 10,000's of movies and shows instantly for under $8 a month.
As far as Atlas.MD patients are concerned, they can:
The above services and benefits are included with the patients monthly membership fee.
The first step in a patient taking control of their healthcare is deciding if the value that Atlas.MD provides is worth the monthly fee that they would agree to pay.
This is an example of how things should be in a free market healthcare system:
It is Atlas.MD's responsibility to fulfill the promises stated in their contract agreement with their patients.
Just like a consumer will stop going to a store that doesn't provide a good enough service, a patient is free to stop their membership at anytime if they believe their issues have not been addressed or if they have found better value from a healthcare facility elsewhere.
The patient has control of how they seek the care they need.
It appears Atlas.MD has provided great value to their patients. Membership count has gone from 0 to 1500 patients in about 3 years as of 2014. The growth in their practice, to a great degree can be attributed to more patients seeking ways to reduce their overall healthcare costs in the age of the Affordable Care Act.
Patients are attracted to knowing exactly what their money is paying for. Their membership brings more than just financial value.
Peace of mind and a sense of control brings added comfort as well. Reducing the stress involved in discussing their care as opposed to some Medicaid patients that become frustrated with the delays in getting their health issues resolved.
It is not Atlas.MD's goal to get rid of health insurance companies however their system can reduce their patients health insurance costs dramatically.
This is because their practice covers more of the day to day issues that their patients can likely handle on their own which leaves just the major, more vital, catastrophic events to be covered by insurance companies.
Regarding insurance premiums, Dr. Umbehr states as a matter of fact that Atlas.MD has been able to reduce insurance premiums for families and employers by up to 60% in the first year.
Atlas.MD is located in Kansas. Fortunately all around the country there is a growing trend of the Direct Primary Care model that they have brought to the mainstream and continue to perfect.
As this kind of concierge service grows. Patients that use this system of healthcare will have more time, energy and money for themselves to use as they see fit.
In other words, people make clear, direct choices with their money and time and they are able to quickly see the results of their decisions.
In Atlas.MD's case, they are busy bringing value that their members chose to have for themselves without any insurance company getting in the way.
Exactly as it should be in the free market model.
Independent Asset Management Agent
The Direct Primary Care Podcast:
Observing the Cause/Effect cycle of economic systems.