New health care model given legal clearance to be tested in Missoula

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By: David Erickson 

A new, monthly fee-based health care model that does away with insurance billing got legal approval from Montana’s top insurance watchdog this week to be rolled out by a Missoula company.

CostCare, a Missoula-based medical walk-in clinic, will be changing its Mullan Road location to the new system, called direct primary care, on the first day of 2018.

For a monthly fee of $70 for adults and $25 for children under 18, patients will have access to routine medical care and access to a personal physician with no charge for office visits and minimal to no charges for lab work and routine procedures.

“We’re looking to re-establish the patient-doctor relationship,” said Dr. Carol Bridges, co-founder of CostCare. “We’re doing away with insurance. So we’re going to do everything to keep people healthy and we’re going to do everything we can to keep people off medications. We’re finally getting out of that ‘do more, bill more’ concept that is bankrupting our health care system.”…

On Monday, Montana insurance commissioner Matt Rosendale issued an advisory memorandum clarifying that direct primary care provider agreements are non-insurance health care options, meaning they are not regulated by his office.

“Montanans should have as many options on the table as possible to meet their health care needs as they see fit,” Rosendale said. “Direct primary care is yet another way for consumers to access routine, preventative, or preliminary health care. These agreements between patients and their doctors are not insurance products, and will not be regulated by my office as insurance.

“While direct primary care provides a good alternative for many people seeking routine or basic health care treatment, it’s important for Montanans to have insurance coverage for major and unexpected health care costs,” he added.

Read more at the Missoulian