Patient Physician Cooperative Offers Discounted Fees Without Insurance
April 18, 2012 -- Portland is home to numerous co-operatives – including grocery stores and other businesses that employees run with their customers. So a healthcare co-op model allowing patients to choose a naturopathic doctor or acupuncturist as their primary care provider might seem like a uniquely Portland idea.
But actually, the Patient/Physician Cooperative (PPC) – which started advertising in Portland last May – is an import from Houston, Texas.
Tony McCormick, a Portland-based electronic medical records specialist whose father, Don, helped organize the first PPC decided it was '”ridiculous” that a similar organization didn't exist in Portland, and began working with Morgan Butler to make it happen.
“The advantage for providers is they can have a quality confidential relationship with their patients” without interference from insurance companies, said Butler, who’s a member services community organizer. Members pay a base fee each month that entitles them to reduced costs for provider visits and prescriptions and tele-doc services for online consultations, or pay a larger fee that covers one primary care visit per month without copay.
People who can’t afford insurance or have a pre-existing condition have found the co-op beneficial, Butler said.
PPC hopes to have 500 members by the end of the year, and intends to roll out further benefits including dental and vision along with more access to specialists.
Dr. Kirsten Carr, a family medicine physician with Multnomah Family Care Center, joined the co-op in December, and had thought about forming a similar organization to take care of the uninsured. When
she heard about the co-op, “It sounded like exactly what I would set up,” she said.
Now Carr has between 10-15 patients in the co-op and is recruiting other providers and encouraging new members. .
Jamie Schmidt, who became a member last year, likes the savings offered by the co-op. “I think the co-op model is an obvious answer where other systems may be out of reach or failing,” said Schmidt, who’s thinking enrolling her son in a co-operative preschool. “Another reward of PPC membership is a sense of belonging in a movement toward much-needed change in our healthcare system. I'm proud to be a member of PPC in its infancy in Portland and look forward to the day where this model becomes the norm."