WHEELING - Dr. Vic Wood's Primary Care One plan is giving people access to health care where they need it the most - out of the hospital.
Wood, who operates Doctors Urgent Care walk-in clinics in Wheeling, Benwood and St. Clairsville, developed the innovative program in 2003 after his research revealed only one in 35 patients required hospitalization for health issues.
"The required labs and physical examination for each new patient is designed to uncover the most common chronic diseases, including diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure, thyroid disease and respiratory illness," he said. "By taking a proactive stance in recognizing and managing these problems, we can help the patient achieve a healthier life."
Photo by Scott McCloskey
Dr. Vic Wood, founder of Primary Care One talks with Erin Bartley, PA-C., at left and Chelsey Taylor, PA-C in the office of Doctors Urgent Care located in the Woodsdale section of Wheeling. Wood is the founder of Primary Care One, a clinic-based health care that is growing around the state of West Virginia.
Primary Care One is a pre-paid health care program based on a flat monthly rate of $83 per person or $125 for a family. It provides participants with unlimited primary and urgent care through office visits, lab work, X-rays and as many generic drugs as the clinic can provide.
Pre-existing conditions are accepted, and there are no claim forms, copayments or pre-authorizations.
"A lot of people think they have to have health insurance to have health care," Wood said. "We are not selling health insurance. We are selling health care."
Wood said Primary Care One is not a complete answer because it does not cover hospitalization, some medications or visits to a specialist.
"We encourage people to seek out the highest deductible hospitalization they can afford to supplement this program," he said.
He said his plan, coupled with a high deductible insurance policy, would cost 31 percent less than conventional coverage.
The pre-paid plan got off to a shaky start when the West Virginia state health commissioner suggested that Wood stop offering the plan, saying he was operating as an unlicensed insurer.
Wood took his case to the West Virginia Legislature, and in 2006 pre-paid plans became exempted from insurance regulations.
Today, the plan has more than 500 participants in the three local clinics and at seven other clinics in the Fairmont and Beckley, W.Va., areas - and the list is growing.
"We are signing up new patients every day," Wood said.
Primary Care One fared well in a January 2010 mail survey commissioned by the West Virginia Health Care Authority and conducted by Jack Canfield LLC. Respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction with services, physicians, staff, costs, convenience and other factors.
Key findings revealed 85 percent have visited a clinic, some more than five times; 60 percent were enrolled in the individual plan; 65 percent were satisfied with the quality of care; 58 percent were satisfied with the range of service; 55 percent were satisfied with how their clinic treated minor emergencies; 64 percent were satisfied with clinic locations; 70 percent believed the monthly cost is "very" reasonable; only 1 percent were displeased with the value of services; 43 percent believe scheduling time was reasonable; 76 percent did not make emergency room visits; only 1 percent found their health to have declined since joining; only 2 percent were not satisfied with physician care; 3 percent were not satisfied with clinic staff; and only 7 percent did not renew.
Wood said the cost of has his plan has never increased.
"This works. I see no reason to raise prices," he said.
Doctors Urgent Care is a walk-in clinic with no appointments necessary. Patients are seen on a first-come, first-served bases subject to severity of needs.