Direct primary care to hit Westfield Dec. 1

From left, Dr. Mary Pat Forkin, Carla Erickson NP-C, Dr. Elaine Habig, Dr. Robert Habig. (Submitted photo)

From left, Dr. Mary Pat Forkin, Carla Erickson NP-C, Dr. Elaine Habig, Dr. Robert Habig. (Submitted photo)

By Anna Skinner

After months of developing its direct primary care business model, Freedom Healthworks found its first business partner in Westfield Premier Physicians, a practice owned by doctors Robert and Elaine Habig for the past 36 years. Dr. Mary Pat Forkin is a partner as well

By switching to direct primary care, an action that will go into effect Dec. 1, the practice can eliminate the insurance companies out of the exam room.

“It’s just direct care between the patient and doctors,” Elaine said. “We get the insurance company out of the exam room. Most people pick their doctor because of who signs up with their insurance company instead of being able to choose the doctor they want.”

Under direct primary care, Westfield Premier Physicians will use a subscription-type service as well as services and tests clearly listed with prices. Doctors will spend more time with patients overall.

“We’ve been in medicine a long time and medicine has changed a lot, and we want to be there more for our patients and do a better job with more care,” Bob said. “It’s what old-fashioned medicine used to be. You came in with plenty of time with physicians. It was one-on-one, and it wasn’t hurried. You felt fulfilled and your health was better taken care of.”

The Habigs said the concept is new to Westfield and the first of its kind in the area.

Freedom Healthworks handles the administrative end of the practice by dealing with the accounting, bookkeeping and more.

“It’s just going to be a whole new experience,” Elaine said. “The difference between this and other medical offices we have been in, or other retail establishments like drugstore seen by nurse, is the experience. We are all experienced with decades of care.”

Two informational sessions about direct primary care and the differences it offers will be 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 10 and Oct. 17 at the Westfield High School Auditorium, 18250 N. Union St.

  • Ryan

    So I walked in this office to try to set up an appointment as a new patient. Noted that they had a giant Trump poster hanging on a door in their office. I agree with the concept of choosing your own doctor and the whole “we won’t process your insurance” is really kind of weird. I took their flyers for their “care plans” and info handouts and looked it over. It’s really messed up when you truly think about this. We are required to have insurance in this country now. This office will not accept and process your medical insurance for you as part of the medical process, they want you to do that part yourself and also you can’t be a patient there anymore unless you pay them extra money for a “care plan”. They want to be very choosy about who they accept as a new patient as well, which worries me. Wow, this is so innovative and revolutionary, I think I might poop a brick guys.

    • Ian Brown

      Ryan, as a member of the direct primary care community, I would encourage you to research both the current state of practicing physicians, and how the direct primary care model works.

      First, physician’s job satisfaction rates have declined at unprecedented rates in the recent decade. There is a physician shortage, but yet 60% of doctors say they would retire immediately if they have the means.^1

      Why am I telling you this? Doctors are unhappy because insurance companies have taken over healthcare and shifted an unsustainable burden of paperwork to physicians. But more paperwork isn’t the point; it’s what the increased burden has done to the level of care. The length of time a doctor spends with a patient in any given visit has significantly decreased. Speaking with doctors about this issue tells us that this decrease in face time decreases a doctors ability to provide quality care, and in aggregate, actually decreases health outcomes on a broad scale.

      Direct primary care is not a war on health insurance. Health insurance is necessary. DPC simply says- you don’t file with your car insurance every time you fill up a tank of gas or get an oil change, why do you need to file with your health insurance when you have a routine visit? When you take insurance out of the mix primary care actually becomes affordable out of pocket.

      Finally, while this is still a new model, initial studies show that our hypothesis is correct- direct primary care significantly improves health outcomes and actually lowers out of pocket expense for patients with high deductible plans (soon to be all of us).^2

      I applaud what the Westfield docs are doing, and as someone that values my health, would love to join their practice. I don’t know many friends that have had a good healthcare experience in recent years. I think this practice is simply trying to provide a better option.

      1. http://www.physiciansfoundation.org/uploads/default/Physicians_Foundation_2012_Biennial_Survey.pdf
      2. http://mainepolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/Direct-primary-care-report.pdf

      • Ryan

        I did say I like the concept in theory. Thanks for the links for research. I did want to look into it, but I don’t want to visit that particular office. They seemed to be at their limits already anyways. What you said is exactly the biggest problem I face and that stresses me out all the time. “insurance companies have taken over healthcare”

      • Junkki

        I agree with what you have written. There are many things going on behind the scenes that the public just is not aware of. The pressures the insurance company puts on these Doctors is awful. Many are required to see an x amount of patients a day, thus the reason why they do not spend much time with the patient. There are negotiations going on behind the scenes as well. It used to be you would go to the doctor they gave you a bill and the patient submitted the claim to the insurance company. Then the preferred provider/HMO came out and took that right out of the hands of the consumers. The patient never saw the invoices anymore and had no idea how much things were costing them. That really frustrated me when they started doing that and at one point my insurance requested I audit one of my hospital bills, it was fluffed with all kinds charges for meds, soda’s, etc things like that, that the hospital never gave to me. This is why I am all for putting the healthcare back into the hands of the people and allow across state lines purchases to drive down the costs. The more the consumer is informed about how they can spend their healthcare dollar the better. Thank you for the websites to look into this more…

        • Ian Brown

          Junkki,

          I work for a company named Freedom Healthworks that helps physicians run independently owned direct primary care practices (we helped Westfield Premier). What you are saying is so true. We work with physicians coming out of hospital systems that have horror stories of profit incentives and price inflating, effectively making the patient completely reliant on health insurance and creating a pricing bubble (that will eventually pop!). We always say – health insurance does not equal health care!

          Its not just bad for the doctors, its actually dangerous for the patients. No time, lack of coordination, missed diagnoses, and massive bills make for a scary patient experience. Having a DPC doc means you have a trusted MD helping you navigate health challenges and coordinate care, even if you have to see downstream care (and most end up saving a lot of money because you have that advocate).

          You may be interested in a blog post done by Dr. Elaine (2nd from the right) about how to find a physician:

          http://westfieldpremier.com/common-myths/

          I would encourage you to look into joining one of our practices. You have the opportunity to get cash pricing for labs, and our physicians, because of same day visits and their expanded availability, keep you out of minute clinics and the ER. And, by the way, the subscription model means they are incentivized to keep you healthy! – not reliant on their care so they continue to make money. If Westfield docs aren’t in your geography, checkout the link below for a doctor in your area:

          http://www.freedomhealthworks.com/locate-a-freedom-healthworks-doctor/