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Doc Offers Payment Alternative To Health Insurance

Paige Browning
Spokane Public Radio

A Spokane physician is offering new type of care for patients that he hopes will be an attractive alternative medical insurance. The concept is called Direct Primary Care, and it offers a subscription type service to patients. The idea is that people use most of their insurance coverage to pay for visits to their primary care doctor , rather than for hospitalization, so this type of care should be a good match to many patient’s needs.

About 4,400 physicians nationwide offer this type of service, and it is a growing trend. Dr Donald Condon believes he is the first to offer such a service in Spokane. For a set annual fee of $1,500, a patient can have unlimited doctor visits, same day appointments without copay, and 24/7 email and cell phone access.

Condon: “When you buy regular insurance, including the Affordable Care Act, you’re paying for other people’s insurance. It’s amortized over yours. If you are working you’re going to pay more and you won’t get the value for the dollar you get, because they are hoping  you won’t utilize much and your dollars will end up paying for the high utilizers."

Condon’s plan allows children of the primary subscriber to be treated as well, at no extra charge. He says ideally a patient should also subscribe to a catastrophic health insurance plan to cover the unexpected hospitalization, and says if it is mated with such a plan will cover the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act. But he says the direct primary care plan provides some advantages over typical health insurance plans, in that his office can make decisions without input on what is covered by an insurance company.

Condon: “They say that lump is probably cosmetic, we don’t cover that. If were in the office , we can just go off into the other room and take care of that. They are not in the decision making process anymore."

Dr. Condon says he hopes to sign up about 700 enrollees for the service.

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Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.
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