Freedom Health Group Corp., of Spokane Valley, has moved from 924 S. Pines to a 4,500-square-foot space at 13607 E. Sprague.
Company owner Rick Hansen says the new space, formerly occupied by Youthful Horizons Physical Therapy PS, will allow the membership-based clinic to have a health-education room and to add other health-care services as its membership base expands. He says removing a wall to increase the size of the waiting-room area was the only remodeling needed before the clinic could open at the new location.
The clinic, which opened its doors in July 2009, targets uninsured and underinsured consumers willing to pay $75 a month for one adult, or $150 a month for a family of four, to receive primary care from its three contracted nurse practitioners. The clinic also offers members laboratory tests that are done in-house, for which it charges $10 to $70.
Members don't pay for most individual office visits, sports physicals, or in-office procedures such as wart removals or skin biopsies. Exceptions to that include annual physicals, which cost $25 for males and $55 for females, and urgent care for accidents, which costs from $50 to $100. Members receive "health and wellness report cards" that track the results of the health care they receive.
Hansen says Freedom Health Group, which is a business, has 100 members, which is enough for the clinic to meet its expenses. He hopes to see that number increase to 350 by the end of this year. When membership hits 500, he hopes to add dental services, a vision clinic, and a pharmacy. Hansen also would like to add to the clinic's staff retired doctors who want to continue practicing medicine but don't like dealing with medical insurance companies.
Hansen says he spent four years doing research on the health-care industry and earning a degree in health administration before he started the venture. Before that, he owned VisionTec Inc., a high-tech contract manufacturer in Spokane Valley, for eight years. He also owned The Qualifier Corp., a Spokane quality-assurance and strategy-planning consulting group, for 12 years.
Hansen says that without insurance forms to process, the clinic gets by with one medical assistant to handle the front desk, make follow-up phone calls, and chart patients' vital signs. Hansen handles administration and marketing. The contracted nurse practitioners do all other clinical tasks, including exams, blood draws, writing prescriptions, and making referrals to specialists.
Hansen believes the company will do well under the U.S. government's planned health-care reforms.
"We think the legislation actually helps us, because costs are going to keep going up. People will look for less costly options. Our approach will satisfy that," he says.
One of the corporation's goals is to get businesses to join Freedom Health Group for their employees' health-care needs, he says. Hansen says he's trying to persuade business owners who provide insurance for their employees that membership in his clinic would be a cheaper option. He's also talking with business owners who haven't been able to afford health insurance benefits for employees in the past, offering his clinic as an option even for part-time employees.
Supplemental accident insurance is included in the monthly membership fee for adults. That insurance costs an additional $15 per month if children are added. Freedom Health Group recommends that members carry a catastrophic medical insurance plan, but does not offer one.
A Spokane long-term care facility for the handicapped called Merry Glen has decided to give Freedom Health Group a try.
Doug Overlock, executive director of Merry Glen, says the organization lost its group insurance coverage this year because too few employees signed up for it. As an alternative, Merry Glen has offered its employees up to $150 a month to help cover the cost of private health insurance or pay for a membership in Freedom Health Group.
The clinic is "not insurance, it's a service. It's something that we could offer to every employee for a low cost," Overlock says. "This way, we could be sure people were able to get some primary care. If they got sick, they could get an antibiotic if they needed it."
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