State

East Texas company making healthcare affordable

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The way patients seek care for the flu and every other medical condition is about to change.

The Affordable Care Act is set to take effect next month and as both individuals and businesses work to comply, one company in east Texas is developing a new kind of health coverage that could cut costs.

Kathleen Ramsey owns KK's Embroidery in Marshall.

"Been in business seventeen years," she said.

Still, she could not afford health insurance, which had climbed to $900 a month with a $7,500 deductible. She just worked through illness, not going to a doctor until she found a new kind of health plan.

"We just kinda looked at it and said this is the best thing that we can get, as close to health insurance as possible for us," she said.

What she got wasn't insurance, but it gets her a doctor for $50 a month, $25 a visit.

For her medical care, she goes to Wellness Practices of America. Already, hundreds of patients in Marshall, Texas, have found this is the way to get help.

It's called fee-for-service medicine, allowing patients and companies to pick high deductible, low-cost insurance, complying with new health care laws and supplement it with a relatively low-cost medical membership.

"It actually puts the patient's health care in their own hands," said Dr. Shaun Kelehan, who started the plan in March.

Wisits are $25 and include lab work.

"We don't even file it to insurance," said Dr. Kelehan. "The insurance company is not even privy to their records because the insurance company is not paying me for the services."

Moe than 300 patients are on the plan.

"The money that we save on our insurance, you put it toward this," said Dr. Kelehan. "You're really not out any money."

Mike and Lisa Fox are among them.

"We weighed the cost of saving insurance premium versus having a physician you can go to for $25 a visit," said Mike Fox.

more than a dozen companies are on board---cutting their costs ahead of the new law. One of them an oilfield company with 150 employees.

"It's beneficial as far as our employees, just in a hiring process our health care program is very important as a benefit to them,' said Lisa Fox.

For Kathleen Ramsey, it's more than the savings.

"It's kinda like you feel like a human being again," she said. "Being able to call the doctor and say hey, 'I'm sick. Can you see me today?'"

Wellness Practices of America has two offices in Marshall. A third is opening up in Longview next month with plans to expand into larger cities, including Houston.

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