Dr. Frank Morgan has been practicing medicine for 13 years in Greeley. Like many of his fellow primary care purists, he wanted to spend more time with his patients and less time dealing with insurance paperwork.
That’s why he founded his new direct primary care clinic, Balance Health, 1709 61st Ave. Here, like us, he treats his patients without accepting insurance. Instead, patients pay a $99 monthly subscription for access to his personal primary care services, as well as access to the clinic’s gym and nutritional advice services.
“This really is somewhat of a dream to try to improve the situation for both me and my patients,” Morgan said.
Frank’s been planning this for more than five years.
According to the Tribune, a longtime patient named Michele Reynolds said the new system is working for her after spending time in the usual care setting.
“I liked (the clinic’s model) because it’s innovative and I think healthcare needs a change,” Reynolds said. “The other night I called him at 9 p.m. and I was in first thing in the next morning. That would never happen in the medical system.”
With the traditional model currently in place in healthcare, hospitals have to hire employees dedicated to communicating with insurance providers, and filling out the required paperwork. To cover those added costs, hospitals have to see a certain number of patients to make a profit.
At Balance Health, Morgan said he’s able to keep his costs lower. He doesn’t take insurance, meaning he doesn’t need to hire employees to communicate with providers.
In lieu of more admin, he’s hired a wellness coach to offer nutritional advice as well as a gym coach to help his patients work out properly.
“We have employees, but they exist to help and directly benefit our patients, rather than being support personnel to help us interface and work within the insurance system,” Morgan said.
In the Direct Care model, Dr. Frank doesn’t need to squeeze in as many appointments during the day to cover the added costs of dealing with insurance providers. Now, he’s able to spend more time doing what he loves — treating his patients.
“My focus in medicine has always been disease prevention through lifestyle modification, but I found it difficult previously while working within the system to have the time I needed to spend time with patients, to educate them and affect change.”
Dr. Morgan’s visits last about a half-hour to an hour, depending on the problem. Right now, he’s seeing patients in his office instead of an exam room — he told the Tribune that patients enjoy the setting more.
Patients have access to Morgan’s cell phone, too. That way they can call him after hours if they have an urgent need.
“Part of our service to patients is to be on call for them 24/7 and give them direct access to my cellphone number so that we kind of remove the barriers between patients and us, the provider. We think this can greatly reduce the cost of healthcare for individuals because what ends up costing people a great deal of money is when they can’t get a hold of their doctor and they have to go to Urgent Care.”
Balance Health offers any primary care services normally found in a doctor’s office–blood tests, electrocardiograms, ultrasounds, etc. He is also dispensing medications in-house, another tremendous way for patients to start saving on overall monthly health expenditures.
Dr. Morgan, in the spirit of responsible and affordable Direct Care, wants all his patients to have health insurance. That’s not just because it’s a requirement of the Affordable Care Act. He’s transparent about the fact that if patients need to be referred to a hospital for a specialized service or surgery, they’ll need the coverage.
“With major hospitalizations — that’s where you encounter the need for health insurance,” Morgan said. “For example, some surgeries can cost tens of thousands of dollars and hospitalizations can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. What we do in primary care is not all that expensive.”
The clinic serves about 340 patients. That’s roughly half of what Morgan plans to take. He’s going to cap the number of patients around where we do at Atlas MD, 600 per doctor. That way he can continue to provide an exceptional quality of service.
Dr. Morgan isn’t alone in offering primary care services directly to patients. Our model is gaining traction across the country. You can track the its development on our I Want Direct Care website.
There’s a provision in the Affordable Care Act that allows for direct primary care providers to compete in the healthcare exchange alongside traditional health insurance options. However, it requires the patient to be covered with a high-deductible plan, something we’ve been encouraging our patients to acquire.
“There’s a pretty big movement afoot to do it,” Morgan said. “This is really about letting the free market work.”
We think Dr. Frank speaks for all of us as physicians when he said, “This really is somewhat of a dream to try to improve the situation for both me and my patients.”
Keep up the good work, doctor.