CHAMPAIGN — One thing Kim Kellenberger didn’t like about the old way she and her family used to get medical care was how rarely her five kids ever saw their own doctor.
When they got sick, their pediatrician was booked for the day, so they’d be scheduled with someone else, she said.
Those days are over for the St. Joseph family.
Mom and all five kids are now patients of a doctor who has time for them when they’re sick, who knows them all by name, who communicates personally with Kim Kellenberger on the phone and even found them an out-of-state surgery center that would do a needed ear procedure for one of the Kellenberger kids at less than one-sixth the price a local hospital is charging.
Their doctor, LeRoy family medicine physician Dr. Deborah Chisholm, has time for such personalized care because late last year she decided to spurn today’s typical way of running a medical practice, based on billing and collecting health insurance payments, and became a direct primary care practitioner.
In a direct primary care practice, doctors such as Chisholm manage a much smaller group of patients and they get paid by the month directly by the patients, bypassing the insurance middleman. There are no added co-pays, and their monthly fees sometimes cover unlimited care.
At least two other health care providers in the area are operating this way: Dr. Susan Mantell just converted her Philo clinic to direct primary care, and physician assistant James Chandler recently hung out a direct primary care shingle under the name Square 1 Healthcare in downtown Champaign.