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Local doctor offers monthly memberships for medical care

Some doctors are offering memberships to provide more personalized care to patients.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As the coronavirus pandemic continues on, it's important to know that simply having insurance does not always equal getting good healthcare. 

Even when you have that safety net, it's hard to know what kind of visits are covered and how much you are going to have to pay out of pocket. 

Now though, there's a newer trend in healthcare that answers all those questions and helps you establish a relationship with your doctor. 

It goes by a few different names, 'membership medical care', 'concierge medical services' or at Levmed Health in St. Pete, it's called 'direct primary care.'  

The big question: what exactly is it?

"A monthly membership to your primary care doctor. What's included with that membership are doctor visits, access to your doctor, same day/next business day visits and a relationship with their doctor that's pretty rare these days," Dr. Brett Levine explained.

Levine started Levmed Health a little over two years ago. He now has 350 patients.  

Many people like Rachel and Charlotte Lambert-Jolley, appreciate his personal approach. 

"With him, it's very immediate. There's really no waiting and he cares. He cares just as much about you as you do about you, which is huge especially when you're dealing with health care."

Dr. Levine says that's because he has more time to spend with patients. 

"All my patients know me, it's different. But for me, it's what doctoring should be and what doctoring used to be back in the day. We're just trying to re-invigorate this doctor-patient relationship that's kind of deteriorated over the years," Levine said.

The big difference here: Dr. Levine doesn't deal with insurance at all, just the monthly membership fee. Anything that costs extra is clearly laid out. He says only about half his patients have insurance for major medical incidents. 

"The ones that don't have insurance, they're getting healthcare. And even the ones that do, having access to a doctor that's on standby to address issues before they fester so you're not thinking before I go to the doctor 'can I afford this?'"

Rachel and Charlotte don't have insurance.  Without Dr. Levine, they say they would only go to the doctor in case of an emergency.  

"He is very, very attentive to what's going on in your life and I think that that also helps keep you healthy because he's always in tune to what's going on with you and you can't pay for that."

He bases the membership fees on age and they range anywhere from $45-$125 a month. Remember, that includes unlimited office visits, same or next day appointments and chronic disease management.

The doctor-patient relationship has really been important since COVID-19 hit. Dr. Levine said having access to him has been most important to his patients. They can text or call or come see him when they have questions or concerns.

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