Why Choose NorthCountry Health?

I am Dr. Ryan Brang and I am the owner of NorthCountry Health, an innovative approach to healthcare in the Marquette community.

With 10 years of clinical experience as a board certified family physician, I bring a depth of clinical knowledge to the table. This experience has shown me that our healthcare system is broken.

You likely are already aware of the difficulties in the current system. Some of these may include trouble accessing your physician, delays in receiving medications, delays in receiving lab and imaging results, long wait times for appointments and referrals, not enough time with the physician and lack of transparency regarding expected costs. Any one of these issues can result in an expensive and frequently unnecessary trip to the ED or urgent care.

There is a better way. My solution takes the form of Direct Primary Care, which is an alternative to the traditional fee-for-service model. In this model, everything is simplified.

For less than what the average person spends on their cellphone bill, you can have unrestricted access to your doctor by phone, text, email or televisit. Same day or next day appointments can be easily scheduled. All in-office procedures will be free or at wholesale cost for members. Standard lab draws will occur within the office and cost a fraction of what traditional lab services bill. Common medications are available and will be dispensed directly to you at the office. No more copays or expensive office visits.

I can do this because I have reserved the time for a select few patients and can offer extended appointments and expanded access to members. This is possible because I don’t bill insurance and my efforts instead can be focused on providing great patient care. This includes the things that can make the biggest difference in the health of members: nutrition, wellness, preventative medicine, stress management and much more. At NorthCountry Health I am dedicated to empowering patients to optimize their health through an unparalleled doctor/patient relationship.

It’s almost Open Enrollment season for the Marketplace, and it’s the time of year where we all get confused about what kind of health insurance we should have.  I am writing a series of articles to answer questions about why Direct Primary Care works well with certain kinds of health insurance.  This third article is about Health Savings Accounts.

HSA (Health Savings Account)

An HSA is a Health Savings Account, and it is sometimes offered to people who choose a high deductible health insurance plan.  I wrote a separate post on high deductible plans.  An HSA gives you the opportunity to save pre-tax money in a savings account that grows interest tax-free.  There are annual limits on what you can put in (2022 is $3650 for an individual and $7300 for families).  When you take out the money to pay for health care expenses, that money isn’t taxed either.  In the world of personal finance, this is a fantastic deal.  At the same time, the benefits of an HSA tend to go to people who have the extra money to save in an account like this.  However, an HSA is a great way to reduce the amount of risk that you are taking on with a high-deductible insurance plan, because you don’t lose this money at the end of the year.  It is your money, and you can save it for when you do have an expensive year and are going to meet your deductible.  I like to think of an HSA is a form of self-insurance for catastrophes.  Low deductible plans don’t offer HSAs because you are asking the insurance company to take on more of the risk for your health insurance costs, and so you don’t get access to this deal.

FSA (Flexible Spending Account)

An FSA is a Flexible Spending Account.  I am including it here because it causes confusion when discussing HSAs.  An FSA is sometimes offered by your employer as part of a health insurance plan.  If you are getting your insurance off the Marketplace, you don’t have access to an FSA.  FSAs are nice because they are also a savings account where you can put in money tax-free and take it out tax-free to use for qualifying medical expenses (there are long lists online of what is allowed).  In my opinion, FSAs are annoying because you have to estimate the amount of money that you want to put in an FSA at the beginning of the year and then you have to spend it or you lose it.  As someone who has had to use leftover FSA money to buy first aid kits that I didn’t need because I didn’t know that glasses were an allowable expense, I find them less useful than an HSA, but they can pair well with a lower deductible plan to cover co-pays, dental work and…glasses!

Can I use HSA or FSA money for Direct Primary Care membership fees?

This can be a thorny issue.  I am neither an accountant nor an expert on the many rules from the IRS.  From what I have read, FSA funds can sometimes be used for DPC membership fees.  It can be up to the employer to decide if it is an allowable expense.  My best recommendation on the use of HSA money for Direct Primary Care membership fees would be to ask your accountant.  Even if you can’t use your HSA funds for your DPC membership fees, you can save that money basically forever, so you could wait to use it until you need to pay for an MRI or a knee surgery! 


Got Questions?

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