Frequently Asked Questions
You can find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions below. If you would like more information, please call our office at (443) 318-4141.
Membership Medicine and You
How does our practice differ from the typical traditional practice?
You will see and feel the difference immediately when you visit us at FirstChoice Family Medicine. Our reception area is relaxing and comfortable, and our office staff is friendly. You will experience very short if any wait times to see me. You will only see me since I am the only physician in this office. We can take the time to address your health concerns and questions. Your office visits will never feel rushed. Because my practice is limited to just a few hundred, not thousands, of patients, I really get to know my patients so I can take a more proactive role in your health and wellness – and be there when you need me.
Once you are an established patient, many health issues and routine illnesses can be handled remotely without an office visit. This can reduce time wasted sitting in traffic, in the waiting room, or even in urgent care facilities and emergency rooms.
My goal is to provide you and your family with an experience that will not just meet, but exceed, your expectations for a doctor’s office. It will be the care you need when you want it.
What is Membership Medicine?
Membership medicine is a proactive style of medical practice that emphasizes wellness and disease prevention through highly personalized care. This “Connected Care” model is designed to foster a greater connectivity with me as a family medicine physician, helping to ensure a strong, satisfying doctor-patient relationship. A monthly membership fee is charged, allowing me to see fewer patients, so I may devote more time to each patient’s care and individual needs. My smaller patient panel allows for extremely convenient and personalized care when you need it which is the key to helping you stay healthy.
It’s the way I’ve always wanted and expected to practice medicine!
What does membership include?
Your membership covers an annual comprehensive physical or “checkup” exam, regardless of need or condition, and provides you a customized wellness plan that guides you in achieving and maintaining optimum health and disease prevention. The exam is in addition to annual wellness visits covered by Medicare or insurance plans and incorporates comprehensive screening and diagnostic tests, and focuses on nutrition, fitness and exercise, lifestyle management, mental wellness, stress management, and chronic disease management. Implementing these exams, with patient wellness and communication support, results in a far more connected version of primary care.
In addition, as a board certified Obesity Medicine doctor, I provide weight management and counseling including meal planning, nutrition education, lifestyle coaching, and fitness goal tracking.
Also, I can provide a great amount of care and care coordination by phone, email and text, including remote visits when appropriate.
I am available to discuss urgent concerns nights and weekends when needed. I am working hard to create a practice where you can reach me when you need me, without having to jump through multiple hoops!
You will enjoy greater convenience and peace of mind. You may also find a reduced need for visits to specialists and the emergency department.
See the many services you will receive!
Who does this membership plan work best for?
People of all ages benefit from the value-added services we offer at FirstChoice Family Medicine.
It works especially well for:
* Patients desiring easy and direct communication with their doctor.
* Patients who want a doctor to address the root cause of illness, not just treat the symptoms.
* Those who want to participate in improving their health and staying well.
* Those with high insurance premiums, high-deductible health plans or no insurance.
* Self-insured businesses seeking to provide their employees with affordable health care and improved well-being, while simultaneously reducing everyone’s healthcare spending.
See who benefits from this membership plan!
Appointments, Referrals and Care
What happens if I’m admitted to the emergency room or hospital?
Hospital admissions for serious medical problems can be stressful and often confusing for patients and their families.
If you are admitted by a specialist or hospitalist, I will stay involved in your care. I will confer and maintain a collaborative relationship with the admitting physician, review your plan of care, make recommendations when needed, and make courtesy visits to the hospitals. As your health care advocate, I will communicate directly with you and your loved ones, and help you navigate the health care system.
What if I need specialty care?
As your primary care physician, my comprehensive training allows me to handle most of your healthcare needs. However, if you do need to see a specialist we will help you find the right doctor. When making referrals, we can consult with your specialist prior to your appointment, as needed.
After your specialist visit, we will follow up to discuss any of your questions or concerns, and arrange additional testing if needed.
What if I need urgent care?
If you have a life-threatening emergency, call 911 immediately. A family member or caregiver can call us later so we can be in contact with the emergency room.
For urgent problems that are not emergencies, you can contact me when you need to. Often, I can diagnose and treat your need over the phone or arrange a prompt office visit. In fact, membership medicine has been shown to result in fewer ER visits for members because we can discuss your medical needs any time of the day or night. And you know you can see me the next day!
What if I need medical attention while I’m away from home?
You can speak with me wherever you are and I will help with any medical conditions that can be done by “remote visit.” If you have a condition that requires in-person evaluation and treatment, I will direct you to appropriate nearby care, and coordinate follow-up when you return home.
What if my doctor is on vacation?
As a member of First Choice Family Medicine, you are never alone. Even when out of town, I will still be available by phone for your urgent needs. You will be notified by email prior to any vacations. If I am not available, I will always have another trusted physician available to assist you for any urgent matters or to be seen in the office.
How insurance works in the practice
Do you bill insurance plans?
We accept most insurances and will continue to bill insurances for office visits. There will be no copays or deductibles collected for office visits since you will be a current member.
Can you see me if I have Medicare?
Absolutely. I am a participating provider with Medicare and will bill Medicare on your behalf, as required by law. Our practice is well suited to handle the more complex medical issues often associated with older patients. We can spend the time necessary to manage chronic disease and the use of medications, and work together to optimize your health and wellness.
Does insurance cover my membership fee?
No, insurance companies consider the Wellness exam and other benefits associated with membership as non-covered services and do not provide reimbursement for the membership fee.
Is the membership fee deductible or covered by my corporate benefits?
Some of the private fee services we provide may be tax deductible and/or reimbursable through HSA/FSA. I encourage you to talk with your tax advisor and employer about these options.
Do I still need to have health insurance?
Yes, you do. My medical practice is NOT a health insurance program. It is very important to maintain insurance (and/or Medicare) to cover outside testing and specialists, as well as expensive, unusual and unpredictable events such as surgery, emergency care and hospitalization. BUT NOT for everyday preventive primary care! By providing you with extraordinary and connected primary care, your plan use can often be reduced.
How to join
How much is the membership fee?
Please visit our pricing section for details. We have discounts for families and children, and there are no long-term contracts required. You may pay annually or monthly.
There is a minimum 3 month obligation when joining. The best part is, there are never any co-pays or deductibles to meet.
Can joining First Choice Family Medicine actually save me money?
It is expected that many patients will save money at our practice because I can properly handle the vast majority of your health issues and concerns, with the goal of identifying and preventing illness risks whenever possible and better managing illness via our Connected Care model.
Studies show this model of care reduces the need for unnecessary medications, more expensive testing, and unnecessary referrals to specialists. It is more likely to prevent unnecessary emergency room visits and hospitalizations. This results in saving you money and providing you better care.
In addition, many people find they can lower the cost of their total medical care by combining a high deductible health plan with a membership practice. Doing so makes joining this practice quite beneficial. My type of practice is also a good fit for those who have no insurance.
And you won’t have any hidden costs or bills that come to you after-the-fact from the office or insurance company. By switching to a higher deductible, lower premium plan, patients may even save money.
We also have negotiated deep discounts with local labs and radiology providers for our patients who choose to pay cash for these services.
Will I still benefit from membership even if I don’t expect to need frequent medical attention?
Absolutely. Besides acute care and chronic disease management, our focus at FirstChoice Family Medicine is on screenings and risk assessments, and lifestyle modifications. We want to identify and prevent disease risk factors, concentrating our efforts on your long-term health and wellness. We listen carefully to you to understand how your life, work and family may be affecting your health. Together we create a personalized plan to achieve and maintain your optimal health. Advanced diagnostic tests can help us identify risk factors and health issues before they cause disease, saving you money, time, suffering and higher costs in the long run. Unlike the traditional practice environment, we have the time to deliver this type of comprehensive and detailed care.
Is there a limit to how many patients can join FirstChoice Family Medicine?
Yes. One of the most important aspects of personalized medicine is limiting the practice size to be able to devote more time and energy to each patient. Therefore, once we have reached our ideal practice size, we will establish a waiting list.
What if I want to cancel my membership?
You are welcome to cancel your membership after 3 months with a 30 day written notice. We will refund memberships paid for the full year at a prorated rate.
How do I become a member?
Please visit the Join Us page for more information.
Please remember that space is limited and we accept members on a first-come, first-served basis. Once we fill all available slots, we will add your name to our waiting list, so we encourage you to act quickly.