New Breed Of Health Care

local doctor’s flat-fee clinic hopes to inspire change

Eric Larson, photos by Leah Dunbar

David Usher’s new ReforMedicine medical clinic (Menomonie) will eliminate “middle man” fees, hoping to provide patients a secure place for primary care.
 
David Usher’s new ReforMedicine medical clinic (Menomonie) will eliminate “middle man” fees, hoping to provide patients a secure place for primary care.

My roommate recently injured himself; pretty badly, too. During a rebound attempt in a pickup basketball game, he landed at just the right angle – or wrong angle, I suppose –and completely ripped his Achilles tendon in two. The following surgery and recovery period was brutal, both physically and, more dauntingly, financially. Even with health insurance, the total price for everything – including overhead, underwriting, and billing – was surprisingly higher than normal. 

But that’s a story that’s been told before; even more so in the past few years.

The steep price increase in health insurance has affected hundreds of thousands nationwide, resulting in many simply not being able to afford it anymore. A 2009 NPR report broke down the percentage of residents in each state without health insurance, and Wisconsin weighed in as having 10.4 percent of its residents under the age of 65 uninsured.

To Eau Claire family physician David J. Usher, that was enough motivation to branch out into his own private practice – offering physician care for a flat, no-nonsense fee.

“Big health care is bound by big government and big insurance rules and regulations,” he told me. “This has been a disadvantage to folks with high deductible or no insurance.”

His new clinic, ReforMedicine, will eliminate all “middle man” fees. The model of operation, he says, will instead provide a secure place for primary care where patients will know exactly what kind of costs they’re facing – no surprises.

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