BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A Bakersfield doctor has started a unique practice that offers prepaid services to his patients.
It's called The Practice. There are no pre-existing exclusions and no co-pays.
However, Dr. Jan Mensink said, the program is not insurance or a replacement to medical insurance.
"That said, about a quarter of people who signed up with us have medical insurance. The Practice is like going back 40 or 50 years ago with your primary care doctor," said Mensink.
Mensink said it is estimated that 24 percent of Kern County residents don't have medical insurance.
"I didn't have medical insurance, and I thought I would try this. The program not only saved me money, but I believe Dr. Mensink helped save my life," said Tammy Perry, patient.
Perry had stage 4 liver disease. She signed up with The Practice because the clinic that was treating her was costing her hundreds of dollars per month, not including prescriptions.
"Essentially it's like a prepaid legal service. You pay $69 a month and we will see you as often as you want for free," said Mensink.
The Practice saves their patients money on a variety of medical services by working with a network of medical facilities that provide X-rays and lab work at discounted rates. Patients usually pay less than half the industry standard cost for those services.
Examples of the low-cost fees are as follows: suturing: $20, strep screening: $2, urine test: $2, EKG: $10, breathing treatment: $10, any sterile trays: $20, pulmonary function test: $20.
"We had a gentleman that had a $5,000 deductible for an MRI. He was going to have to come up with $2,400. He signed up for The Practice and through Truxtun Radiology we got if for him for $325," said Wanda Parker, office manager.
The program has been in operation for just about one year and has been met with tremendous success. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of patients who have signed up. Mensink treats about 85 percent of their medical needs, however there are three things he does not treat.
"We don't cover babies under three months of age, we don't cover anything to do with pregnancy or anything to do with pregnancy termination," said Mensink.
Jennifer Crissman signed up after her HMO plan was costing too much. She said The Practice was a godsend.
"We had a $25 deductible every time we saw a doctor, but we were paying almost $200 per month just on a regular HMO plan," said Crissman, patient
Mensink said the program also provides low-cost prescription benefits through generic drugs and the Walmart $4 prescription plan.
They are also reaching out to the entire community by providing $70 mammograms through Truxtun Radiology because of Breast Cancer Awareness month. The special will last through the end of the year.
The Practice is located at 2920 F Street, No. D7 in downtown Bakersfield. For further information, www.thepracticeofjanmensink.com.