First Weeks of NorthCountry Health Direct Primary Care

On Monday, September 12, NorthCountry Health opened its doors to the Marquette community.  I started seeing patients immediately and began fielding phone calls from prospective patients who wanted to talk about the Direct Primary Care model and set up their initial meet and greet sessions.  Some of these phone calls came from patients I already knew and some of them came from community members who were ready to explore a new option.

Later that first day, the Lake Superior Community Partnership arrived with a large blue ribbon and some truly enormous real scissors.  Friends, colleagues from the hospital, local dignitaries, TV6 and family members began arriving.  We had a ribbon cutting ceremony and I did an interview with TV6 that highlighted the clinic and the Direct Primary Care model.  Thanks to all who came in support of this venture!

On September 22, we hosted an open house from 4pm-7pm.  We welcomed friends, fellow small business owners, people who have helped us along the way and have now become friends, prospective patients, colleagues in the medical community and our ever-helpful family members.  Katie timed her sourdough bread perfectly for the start of the open house, and the aroma of freshly baked bread added to the welcoming atmosphere.  Thanks also to our many friends who brought us the (hopefully) hardy plants that now grace the waiting room!

The days since the opening have been full.  I thought the clinic was ready to go, but there were some technological things to learn (how to hook up the scanner, get the phone lines set up, ordering supplies, etc.)  The adjustment to the slower pace of medicine has been refreshing and rewarding.  I have performed the first in-house blood draw and dispensed the first in-house prescription, both of which saved patients time and money.

The patient response has been overwhelmingly positive.  Patients have appreciated the expanded time available to discuss not just their current medical concerns, but also their health goals and how to maintain their health in the future.  


NorthCountry Health Direct Primary Care is open for business, and once you are ready to consider a new model of primary care, send me an email ( or give me a call (906-936-3499) and we can get started!  

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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