Angela Kohl pays over $700 for a 90-day supply of medications, but now a new health-care plan provided through her employer saves Kohl over $600.
Missoula-based CostCare provides urgent care, screenings and other health-care services, all covered through a monthly membership fee.
An employee of Hestia In-Home Support in Missoula, Kohl receives CostCare’s Direct Primary Care for free through her work.
CostCare was the first direct primary care clinic in Montana to adopt the membership model, which has been used by more than 1,500 clinics nationwide.
“(CostCare was) the first direct primary care clinic in Montana, so we brought that here,” said Lesley Von Eschen, co-owner of CostCare. “Direct primary care is just a different way to pay for your health care and it’s a membership model. So for $70 a month, you basically have all of your urgent care, primary care and preventative needs, taken care of.”
Maurika Moore, founder and CEO of Hestia In-Home Support, said the company pays its employees’ membership fees, providing them with free health care. Employees can add family members to their plan for an additional fee at a reasonable rate.
“When I think of myself and my family, and I try to pick out a health insurance plan, I think about the things that we need medically and we’re all so different,” Moore said. “So for me to try and pick that for a team of 50 people, that’s crazy.”
The program allows members to have a primary care provider that they can contact over the phone at any time. Hestia In-Home Support employee Shannon Wiloth said that she was able to get a prescription over the phone after her daughter developed an ear infection during a family vacation.
“It was a godsend,” Wiloth said.
The program also offers discounted prescriptions through Granite Pharmacy in Missoula, and different membership rates are available to individuals, families, employer groups and others. The program is not health insurance, however, Von Eschen said.
Since 2018, about 13 businesses have used the membership for their employees.
“The biggest thing that we hear, and this is throughout the country, is that people are, in theory, demanding cost-effective, transparent access in health care. This is it, hands down,” Von Eschen said. “It has full access, so no longer do you have to sit in an emergency room for something silly when you can just text your provider. It takes all of that out.”
Moore said that she recommends that smaller businesses start the program. So far, many of her employees have used the health care and see it as a valuable addition to their health insurance. Some employees didn’t have any form of health care at all before starting the program.
“With insurance, we’re feeling vulnerable in that system and not knowing how to provide for a big group of people,” Moore said. “Just being able to provide access to health care and getting rid of the biggest obstacle of getting treated is the right answer.”
Contact reporter Mari Hall via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.