Charging a monthly membership fee has not only allowed Grassroots Healthcare the ability to offer patients an affordable non-insurance model, but has also helped elevate Dr. Melita Tate’s passion.
Imagine a world in which people don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars per month in health insurance, and then $40-60 co-pays every time you visit the doctor, then much more in deductibles and portions of the fee once you reach a certain amount.
That is the reality at Grassroots Healthcare in south Tulsa. They cut out the insurance middleman and their patients wind up spending a whole lot less on health care. Instead, patients pay a membership fee of $100 or less per month and then much cheaper costs per visit, depending on what the issue is.
“It’s $50 a month up to the age of 45, then it’s $75, and beyond that, it’s $100 starting at 65,” says Dr. Melita Tate, the founder and primary doctor at Grassroots Healthcare, regarding the membership fees. “They didn’t teach me how to run a business [at medical school], so we had trouble keeping our doors open. There’s a clinic in Wichita [Kansas] that we modeled after, called Direct Primary Care, and that’s what they did. We put that in place here, because we wanted to have something stable, an income to keep our doors open.
“The office visits run from $69 to $89, depending on how complicated they are. Most simple sicknesses are $69 and there’s a $20 new-patient fee. We’re very upfront about lab pricing as well. Like a CBC for my contract patients is $6. I think it’s $20 for a non-contracted patient, which is still amazingly lower than what the hospitals charge. We’re pretty proud of what we do. We’re amazing.”
As she notes, Tate does also see patients who don’t pay the monthly membership fees, and even for them, the prices are much lower than usual. For example, the office visits are still $69-89 for adults, depending on the problem, while wellness checkups for children range from $50-70. The Grassroots Healthcare website also includes pricing for various procedures, featuring everything from an ear flush at $15 per ear to a full physical with lab tests and EKG for $255.
“We don’t want to be called a ‘concierge clinic,’ where it’s just for elite people,” Tate says. “For my patients to see me, they pay a membership fee and then all their labs are wholesale, so whatever it costs us, that’s what it costs them. I think there’s like a 10 percent for lab supplies and stuff like that. We’re able to offer really low-priced labs for my cost-contracted patients, and then the rest of our labs are still very low-priced for other patients as well.”
Tate can keep the costs much lower than other clinics because she is not dealing with insurance companies and government personnel with Medicaid, which would require her to employ additional workers to handle all the paperwork.
“I don’t have to hire somebody to go chase down insurance dollars. I don’t have to pay for someone to fill out paperwork or push around insurance money all day,” says Tate, who grew up in Bartlesville, earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry at Evangel College in Springfield, Missouri before attending medical school at the University of Oklahoma.
“I went there [med school] to care for people. And we do try to keep people off medications, if possible. Anytime we start something, we’re looking at all-natural ways to help them come off medications. We want people to get well. And that’s a little bit of a different concept than most clinics.”
That also means that she is able to see patients much quicker than the average doctor. She makes contracted patients a priority, so when there is an issue, they can usually get an appointment pretty quickly. By not “working” for an insurance company, Grassroots is able to elevate the doctor-patient relationship with not-so-rushed office visits and the ability to better connect with each patient. Longer visits help doctors to better see the big picture when it comes to their patients’ health.
“There is a wait for new patients, but my patients that are on the contract, because we keep our number of patients to a low volume, they’re usually seen the same day or the next day,” she says.
Contracted patients receive 24/7 access, as patients get Tate’s personal cell number, and there’s even the potential for home visits, if necessary.
Additionally, it’s important to point out that Grassroots Healthcare is equipped to handle many urgent care needs, such as wound stitching or broken bones. They believe if they save a person even one urgent care or emergency room visit, the membership will pay for itself.
And if you do have insurance, you can still utilize Grassroots Healthcare as an “out-of-network” option, submitting your bills to your insurance company for some partial reimbursement.
It’s all part of Grassroots Healthcare’s innovative model that puts the patient first and emphasizes their health, not just their sickness.
“I am so excited to be a part of a health care model that is solving the health care crisis without government or insurance interference,” states Tate on her website. “Outsmarting the pitfalls of insurance and well-meaning but encumbering government bureaucracy were the original inspiring principles on which Grassroots Healthcare was founded.”
6530 E. 91st St. | Tulsa
Monday-Friday: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
(closed 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. for lunch)
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