Board-certified family medicine physician, Dr. Leslee McElrath, owns an independent medical practice in Akron, Ohio’s Merriman Valley called Monarch Ideal Care L.L.C. The Fairlawn location offers patients cheaper alternatives for medical services using a concierge/direct primary care (DPC) model.
According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Dr. McElrath completed her medical training in Dayton before working for a private practice in Washington, D.C. The experience made her realize that the traditional form of practice was not for her.
She says her personality “didn’t fit in with a corporate system.”
Dr. McElrath initially used a DPC model. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) explains that DPC models require patients to pay their medical provider directly and periodically. AAFP’s website states, “The DPC practice framework includes any practice model structured around direct contracting with patients/consumers for monthly or annual fees which serve to replace the traditional system of third party insurance coverage for primary care services.”
However, after receiving feedback from her patients, she deemed it necessary to move to a concierge model. The model offers her patients an online portal where they can schedule appointments and communicate with her. Consultations are free at the medical practice, and patients have the option of same-day or next-day availability.
In addition, the Black-owned practice also partners with others to offer holistic services that provide nutrition and health coaching, yoga, massages, and mental-health sessions.
Dr. McElrath believes there is a need to “holistically take care of a person” in addition to providing medical assistance.
Finding a mental health counselor that is affordable and accessible for her patients was an important factor. Although partnering with mostly Black- and women-owned businesses was a primary goal, she recently sealed a partnership with a Black male fitness trainer who offers add-on services to her practice.
Dr. McElrath’s pricing is as follows:
Her $85 a month package includes evening and weekend availability to the doctor, two video psychotherapy visits per month for 12 months, a massage every three months, a monthly yoga group class, and six months of nutrition and health coaching. This package also includes other benefits. Insurance policies for this package allow patients to use their traditional insurance to bill basic medical care and lab costs, not excluding copays and deductibles.
The $125 a month package grants patients unlimited access to the doctor. This includes enhanced services and discounts for family members. No insurance is billed.
“At the end of the day, it’s so much cheaper than having insurance and paying your copay. For $125 a month, you have essentially unlimited access to a doctor who knows you intently and is there basically at the click of a button,” the Akron Beacon Journal quoted Anthea Morris, a 30-year-old divorced mother of three.
McElrath’s patients range from ages seven to 65. Although she does not accept Medicare, she still enjoys working with Medicaid patients offering them a waiver from the subscription fees.