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Making Medical History: Flat-rate Fees without Insurance

July 9, 2009

In Seattle, one group of doctors has decided to move forward with its plans on providing healthcare, regardless of the Obama Admin plan to get everyone universal health coverage.  The Qliance group out of Seattle has been seeing patients under this program designed to offer people affordable healthcare, without having to wait to see what insurance companies will do:

Qliance says it is a private alternative to the failures of insurance, which have made health care President Obama’s top legislative priority in Congress, with a price tag of $1 trillion or more.

Qliance customers pay $99 to join, then a flat monthly rate of $39 to $119, depending on age and level of service. Patients can quit without notice and no one is rejected for pre-existing conditions.

Patients must go to outside brokers and qualify medically to buy catastrophic care. One broker said a 30-year-old could expect to pay $133 per month for such care, and a 60-year-old nearly $400, plus substantial deductibles.

Qliance patients get unrestricted round-the-clock primary care access and 30-minute appointments.

“Why would a doctor not want to see sick people? That doesn’t make sense, unless you’re an insurance company,” Bliss said.

He rejected the idea that unrestricted access causes overuse, calling that “nonsense promoted by insurance companies …. There’s nobody I’ve ever met who gets their pleasure by seeing doctors.”

One of the main arguments for this type of care is that when the insurance companies are taken out of the picture, everyone makes more money (patients, doctors, health care clinics) because one of the top middlemen is pulled out of the funding pool. It’s an interesting trend, and it’s one that I expect to see continue as the pool of people without insurance gets larger every week with lay-offs and financial issues.  There is a huge market for the next group who proves that healthcare doesn’t have to break the checkbook to be effective.  It’s such a large group, in fact, that I am willing to bet retailers like Wal-Mart and Walgreens will expand their health clinic services and expand their discounted health care plans possibly as loss-leaders or just plain money-makers.  Wal-Mart already offers vision services and flu shot clinics, along with a pharmacy and tax preparations, food courts, etc.   If Subway can make money in Wal-Marts by standardizing service with fixed prices, why can’t health care?

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