- I signed up to be a member of One Medical, a primary-care practice that charges a $US200 annual fee and also bills your health insurance.
- One Medical has plans to double its footprint over the next two years after an infusion of $US350 million in funding that valued the company at $US1.5 billion.
- Here’s why it’s going to be the primary-care startup to beat, as far as having a service that helps you book appointments online and easily connect with a provider.
- I tried out One Medical as part of an experiment to get all my healthcare taken care of via new models that aim to make getting healthcare easier.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Over the past decade, a number of different efforts have popped up to disrupt the way primary care is provided.
Some come with monthly fees and don’t take insurance, some use additional technology, and some are geared toward employers or toward the elderly in the US.
To understand how healthcare is changing, I tried to get all my healthcare done via startups that promise to make getting care easier. That included picking out a place to get primary care.
Thinking of my own healthcare needs, I landed on One Medical, a company that charges a $US200 annual fee and offers same- or next-day appointments with doctors or other healthcare professionals that users can book online. The company in 2018 raised $US350 million in funding, and it’s expecting to double the number of medical clinics it operates over the next two years. It currently has 72 locations in nine cities.
Initially, I’d tried to sign up for an annual visit and a well-woman’s visit as part of the appointment. It seemed like my only option after selecting the annual visit. I then picked a time slot.
I was surprised to find that there weren’t any doctors available to meet with me at my nearest location, though there were appointments with other medical professionals such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners. I went back to One Medical’s website and saw that there was a doctor at the Wall Street location, but she wasn’t accepting new patients.
Not a big deal, as I remembered meeting mainly with PAs in my other New York primary care visits, so I went for it anyway. Since I booked my appointment, I noticed that there’s now a doctor at the Wall Street location who is accepting new patients, so the shortage might have been temporary.
Jenni Vargas, One Medical’s chief strategy officer, said that there’s usually a mix of providers in each One Medical office, though the company finds that nurse practitioners and physician assistants have comparable customer satisfaction scores to doctors.
The day before my appointment, I got a call from One Medical. It turns out, I hadn’t hit the right buttons as I was signing in. Initially, I’d planned to use the visit as my annual checkup, but since I’d basically done that earlier in the week at Tia, and because I’d have to reschedule, I decided to switch to a check-in visit to discuss some pain I’d been feeling in my knee after running a half marathon in March.
My appointment was at One Medical’s Wall Street location, a few blocks from my office. It was slick getting up to the office, and the views prompted me to take a photo.
We were on the 45th floor, and it was cool to see out over the water, with One World Trade to the left of my view.
The exam room I was in had an equally nice view. It tempted me to take a selfie when I had a minute to spare.
During the visit, I explained what was bothering me, what I assumed might’ve happened (the route took me over the Manhattan bridge, which was incredibly cool but also a steep downhill I hadn’t trained for). My provider examined my knee and asked where I was feeling pain.
I had been stubborn and running on my knee as usual, which didn’t do me any favours, so hearing from a professional that I should give it a rest was helpful. She gave me a course of action (rest, alternative exercise, knee brace, icing, and ibuprofen would all be key), and passed along a referral to a physical therapist should I need it.
I used One Medical’s messaging feature to follow up about the progress of my knee and to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. It was nice to have that communication channel open.
On my way out, I checked in with the front desk, which informed me that I didn’t have to pay anything today, but I would have coinsurance associated with the visit. I called my health plan after, and the plan informed me that since my visit wasn’t preventative, it would go toward my deductible, meaning I’ll be on the hook for the full negotiated rate. I still haven’t received a bill.
Vargas told me that now that I’m a member, I’ll start to receive notifications for things like coming in to get my flu shot, or things I should do to keep myself healthy. So far, I’ve gotten messages about measles and seasonal allergies. The allergies one advised me to use my One Medical app (which I downloaded at Vargas’s suggestion) to get care without coming in for a visit. Usually I just muddle through a few weeks of pollen-covered New York City, but if it gets bad, I might turn to the app for relief.
The expectations One Medical has to live up to
Because I’d only have time to use One Medical once before submitting this, I turned to Ariel Schwartz, an editor on our science team who’s a longtime One Medical member, to get her perspective on the company.
Schwartz had been using One Medical in San Francisco for a number of years and found it convenient (an office was in her office building).
But since moving to New York a year ago, she’s been less excited about the service. For one, she found it hard to book an appointment with a doctor, rather than a PA or nurse practitioner.
And some of the perks that initially drew her to One Medical, like messaging and booking online, are now routinely available at other doctor’s offices, making her rethink the annual fee.
That’s a challenge for One Medical. As healthcare practices get more tech-savvy and customer-friendly, potentially all covered by a traditional copay rather than additional fee, One Medical will have to work harder to stand out.
I came into this assignment assuming that One Medical would be geared toward me, a healthy 26-year-old who usually goes in once a year for an annual exam. I’m less sure now if it’s worth the additional $US200, since I’m pretty hands-off.
Also, with my high-deductible plan, I’m anxious to see how big my bill will be for the quick check-in visit.
But the jury’s still out. Going forward, I’m interested to test out some of the more virtual features to see if it can prevent me from getting hit with a high office visit bill, given the high deductible health plan I’m on. If it can save me money on say, an urgent care visit down the line, it might be worth it.
Are you a One Medical user? We’d love to hear about your experience. Contact the author at [email protected]
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