Dr. Byron Haney is offering a patients a different path to obtaining health care that veers from the traditional health insurance model.

Dr. Haney’s Compassdirect Healthcare (formerly Family Health Care Ellensburg) works on a Direct Primary Healthcare payment model. This model does not do away with the need for insurance for some purposes, but it does provide for many medical services through a monthly payment directly to the clinic. Haney’s clinic officially completed the transition on Jan. 1.

The model works like a club membership — a monthly payment covers most basic medical treatments. Emergency room visits as well as other advanced medical treatments will still requires a hospital visit so patients should keep health insurance as well.

Haney said before he switched his practice to direct care, he was spending more time dealing with insurance companies than he was with his patients. In recent years, he said insurance companies have overstepped their original intended role, and are now “in between the doctor/patient relationship.”

“The most valuable asset a person has in their life is their health, always,” Haney said. “In the United States our cost of healthcare is skyrocketing.”

Haney has experience with insurance getting in the way of helping people in need. He said he once had a situation where a patient came to him with chest pain. Haney believed it to be a heart disease. However, he said the insurance company wouldn’t approve the tests the patient needed to prove he had heart disease. This led to the patient suffering a heart attack before he got treatment.

With the Direct Primary Care (DPC) model, Haney is removing the insurance company from between the patient and their doctor. Doing this also allows doctors to see more patients, who are paying less for a doctor visit.

Haney said insurance only used to cover the large medical procedures but now it is covering everything. This means that patients will have to pay more for each doctor visit because of the cost of the insurance.

“People think they are covered, like a hospital gown, but on the backside of them they are totally exposed,” Haney said. “Insurance doesn’t really cover anything, and the money is going to them… I want to go back and get the insurance company away from between me and the patient, I want to go back and serve the patient. I wanted to spend time with my patient.”

NO LIMITS

The monthly payment model covers everything that Haney can offer, and lets people seek medical treatment as often as they want. Haney said people sometimes don’t go to the doctor because they know they cannot afford it. With DPC, that will no longer be an issue, and people can come and get treated as many times as they want with no extra charge.

Haney said DPC allows physicians to spend more time with their patients, patients can even contact their doctors directly. Haney gives out his cell phone number to his patients so they can call and text him at any time. He once diagnosed a patient after the patient sent him a picture of his issue over text. Haney was able to prescribe medication and the patient was able to pick it up at his local pharmacy without ever having to meet in person.

However, the change in payment plans has led to some of his patients transferring their care to other clinics and physicians. He said that hundreds of his patients left, although there are also a number of new patients who are using the new model.

Julia Peterson, CEO of Kittitas Valley Healthcare, said KVH accepted patients who were leaving Haney’s clinic because of the payment changes.

Peterson said Haney has an excellent staff, and they have been working well together with this mass transition of patients.

“His office manager and the folks at his front desk have been really, really good about getting us the records that we need and communicating about the change in the current model.”

She said the goal of all medical staff is to ensure that everyone in the area can get their primary care locally and KVH wishes Haney the best of luck with this model because it helps achieve that goal. Anyone who is not comfortable with DPC for whatever reason is always welcome at KVH, she added.

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