OLATHE, Kan. — An Olathe, Kan., family doctor is charging patients by the minute and he doesn’t take insurance. And so far, his practice is thriving.
Catherine Armistad and her two boys used to see Dr. Brooks when he was part of a large practice that served patients with health insurance.
“When my children got sick, they never had the opportunity to see Dr. Brooks, it was always some other physician who maybe took a couple of minutes with them and was not aware of their medical history,” said Amistad.
Under direct care membership, Amistad pays $500 a year, plus $2 a minute at each appointment — except for wellness checks, which are included in the annual fee. The membership fee for her sons is $250 a year, plus the $2 a minute rate.
Non-members pay a flat fee of $6-per-minute.
While that may sound expensive, there are no co-pays and Amistad’s monthly insurance premiums have gone way down because she switched to a high deductible plan with a health savings account.
“We are able to pay for that membership and the fees for Dr. Brooks out of the health savings account and we’re finding that is not any more expensive for us,” she said.
Dr. Brooks changed to “direct pay” because he said he was spending half his time on paperwork. Now he has less overhead and more time for patients.
“We’ve pretty much committed to our members that we’re going to see them that day or the next day. I’m willing to come in after hours to see them if they have a laceration that needs to be repaired,” Brooks said.
Not everyone is sold on the idea.
“Can he make a living? I don’t know — it remains to be seen,” said Elizabeth Rowe.
Rowe helps run her husband’s neurology practice where, she said, one full-time employee does nothing but process insurance paperwork. Rowe suspects more patients may want to follow doctors who don’t deal with insurance.
“I think it’s a good time to try that because I think people are going to be looking for independent physicians who are not embedded in some huge hospital system anymore,” Rowe said.
You still need insurance for “big ticket” items like surgery or if you need to be referred to a specialist, Brooks said. However, he said he can treat 90 percent of what’s presented to him at the office.
To learn more about Dr. Brooks’ practice, and direct pay, visit here.