Special Report Part III: Smaller health care options are on the rise, including in Mower County

Published 10:29 am Monday, November 4, 2013

Austin’s alternative health care

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As the discussion on health care and insurance rages at the state and federal level, local residents can find more options for basic care through alternative means.

Smaller, walk-in clinics like Quick Care in Austin and the Smart Clinic inside Sterling Drug are becoming more popular for basic medical needs.

“It’s a good thing,” said Debbie Shaffer, business manager at Quick Care. “If you can’t get in to be seen at Mayo, we’re a good alternative.”

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Shaffer started Quick Care with her husband, James, a doctor who left Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin in 2012. Though the Shaffers have been in business for two years, they have found increasing business for the basic medical services they offer, like lab tests, throat cultures, and flu shots among other things. What separates the Shaffers from larger hospitals is their ability to work with patients on payments — specifically, the cash option they offer instead of going through insurance.

“Deductibles are getting higher and higher, so we offer an alternative to using your insurance,” Debbie said.

Walk-in clinics aren’t the only medical care alternatives in town anymore. Quality Pork Processors, Inc. opened a primary care clinic for its employees last month. QPP administration got the idea for a clinic when looking at trimming health costs more than a year ago.

“Our health care costs were skyrocketing, like every other company,” Kelly Wadding, QPP President, said in September.

The Austin-based company got the idea after looking at other meat processing plants around the country. Administrators wanted to keep employees healthy, as many plant workers used the emergency room as their main source of medical treatment. Now, QPP’s clinic will provide primary care appointments, prescriptions, referrals, and help employees with long-term medical care, such as managing diabetes or other ailments while on the job.

“This is a really revolutionary thing for a company to do in this area,” said Charles Moline, financial adviser with AdviserNet Financial.

Moline is helping more than 25 area companies figure out insurance options as Affordable Care Act mandates take effect. Companies that provide health care options like QPP will ultimately cut underlining insurance costs, according to Moline.

“We’re going to see a lot of larger companies start looking into the same thing,” he said.