With health care costs rising, patient care declining, and government becoming more involved in patients’ health care decisions, more and more doctors are choosing under the Direct Primary Care model of medicine.
Samaritan members Brandon Alleman and Nicholas Tomsen are two more doctors joining the DPC movement to give their patients topnotch care at the lowest prices possible. Both became DPC doctors with the intent to deliver “full-spectrum care primary care” to their patients.
Dr. Nicholas Tomsen received his M.D. from the University of Iowa and went on to the Via Christi Family Medicine Residency, where he was a chief resident and recognized as Outstanding Resident Clinician from the residency program. He is now on staff part time at Via Christi, teaching new doctors and “using medicine as a means to ministry.” He and his wife, Michaela, have three children—Moriah, 7, Charlie, 5, and Daniel, 2.
Dr. Brandon Alleman also received his M.D. from the University of Iowa and graduated from the Via Christi Family Medicine Residency, where he was chief resident for obstetrics. He is also a former Fulbright Scholar to Budapest, Hungary. He and his wife, Becca, have four children—Jonah, 6, Cora, 4, Esther, 2, and Levi, 8 months. Dr. Alleman “enjoys helping people understand their health.”
Together, Drs. Tomsen and Alleman opened their clinic, Antioch Med, on July 11, 2016, in Wichita, Kansas, following medical school and residency. Both say the DPC model “best aligns the incentives of patients and physicians” and without it they would not be able to fulfill their mission, which is simple: “to provide high-quality, full-spectrum, accessible, affordable primary care.”
Here are their answers to some questions we asked them recently.
How is your practice different than a typical one?
Dr. Alleman: We are not a fee-for-service practice but operate on a membership model. People pay a monthly fee ranging from $15-$75 based on age to become members, and this gets them office visits, phone calls, emails, and texts at no extra charge.
In addition, they get the benefit of at-cost medications (i.e., blood pressure meds $1 per month), at-cost labs (blood count $1.70), at-cost imaging (X-ray $55, ultrasound $125, CT $200, MRI $250). There are other services as well, but these are the highlights.
We know and have meaningful relationships with our patients.Dr. Nicholas Tomsen
Dr. Tomsen: The main difference to me between our practice and traditional insurance accepting fee-for-service practices is that we know and have meaningful relationships with our patients; we have time to fully address their needs with longer appointments when needed; we are patients' health care advocates and work with them to navigate an often unintelligible health care world; and we have freedom since we are the owners of our practice to give care in the best way that is indicated for our patients and not just the way that an insurance company deems is appropriate for payment.
What are some of the advantages to your practice that patients most appreciate?
Dr. Alleman: Affordable cost, easier access to the physician and high quality, full-spectrum medical care. This includes doing inpatient (hospital) care and obstetrics.
What are some of the problems with regulation of health care that you are able to avoid by having a DPC?
Dr. Alleman: We do not deal with any third parties, governmental or insurance companies. That means no one but the patient and their doctor are making decisions about their health. We get to deliver a high-quality service at an affordable price that makes both doctor and patient happy.
Why did you join Samaritan Ministries?
Dr. Alleman: Currently in the United States, true health insurance is illegal to sell. Plans have to conform to Affordable Care Act standards. This makes them unaffordable to almost everyone who isn't having them subsidized by an employer or government. Since we operate a small business, Samaritan Ministries gives us a cost-effective option to protect our families that is in line with our values. We are supporters of cost-sharing ministries and desire to see them succeed. Our clinic is also likely the most cost-effective way for people with Samaritan Ministries to get the highest quality care.
Dr. Tomsen: Our family had been looking into Samaritan Ministries for some time. I had been aware of them for years as we had family friends that had been members since the 90s, and they had great experiences with several needs being shared through the years. Becoming a small business owner and being forced to look at the options for health care made me really understand how affordable sharing is within Samaritan Ministries and tipped us over the edge to make the change. We love being able to share in not only the expense of other believers; care but also to share in encouragement and prayer.
What has your experience been with having a need?
Dr. Alleman: We have had one shareable need with the birth of our fourth child. My wife and I negotiated with the hospital and received a reduced price. We paid the hospital and then the need was shared with other members. It worked as expected, though some members took longer to pay than others. We hope not to have to have another Need but are not scared about needing to submit it if another Need arose.
Dr. Tomsen: I have cared for several patients through Antioch Med with medical issues ranging from surgeries to hospitalizations or deliveries of babies, and their feedback to me, regarding the (Need-submission) process, was excellent. Thankfully our family has not had a Need to be shared to this point!